Entering the Yogurtistan universe just as you would a Facebook game, you can then go into virtual reproductions of bricks-and-mortar stores and purchase goods. The developer’s plan is to enable every retailer to offer its customers a top-quality shopping experience on the web.
How to foster remote selling, without detracting from the customer experience? An increasing number of brands are now offering their customers sites with enhanced browser capability and m-commerce applications which have also been designed so the online visitor can view and check out products easily. Another approach is for a company to transform its Facebook page into a working store, using solutions such as those provided by Boosket, a support provider which helps companies set up shop on all the channels its customers use. However, these initiatives usually come with a considerable price tag. A third option is again to use Facebook, but this time simply as a bridge to a virtual world in which – along the lines of the Second Life virtual online world – the online visitor can create and develop a character, access not only information content but also products, and can purchase them. This is the idea behind Yogurtistan, launched in 2012 by the Turkish startup Yogurt. In this virtual 3D retail universe, which you can access in the same way you would a Facebook game, you can walk into shops similar to those in the real world, click on items you see – as pictures or video, etc – and buy them if you wish. To use the system, all you have to do is connect via your account. And, as with every Facebook application, you can then interact with your friends.
Turning every retailer into an e-tailer
Cemil Türün, founder and CEO of Yogurt AS, told L’Atelier that the Yogurt business proposition is to enable all retailers, whatever their budget, to get into e-commerce. So to become part of this virtual world built on Adobe Flash, you don’t need to spend a fortune upfront. “We develop the retailer’s virtual shop free of charge and then charge a percentage of the actual transactions made in Yogurtistan. That means we take a commission on sales, between 1 and 20% depending on the product,” explained Türün. Retailers who don’t have their own website can therefore obtain online exposure by setting up shop in the Yogurtistan universe. Another valuable aspect for retailers is that, points out Türün: “For many companies, going onto Facebook can pose a problem in that Facebook collects data on their customers and uses it to generate revenue for itself. This is why we wanted to offer a universe in which we partner with our companies. It’s almost like a cooperative.” Every brand owns the information its gathers on its customers, but is also required to share the information with Yogurtistan which, if authorised to do so, can then offer reductions on products from other partners which might interest that customer.
A virtual shopping mall
The visitor can pay for his/her goods with a credit or debit card, and can settle up either in the store or via his/her Yogurtistan account. The basic aim is to enable the customer to come across as many brands as possible in the same place. This is of course a useful initiative but, just as in the real world, you will need to make time for shopping. The fact is that you have to ‘go out’ – virtually – in order to ‘step inside’ the boutiques to shop, and it’s still not always easy to find your way around. Today there are already nineteen retailers displaying their wares in the virtual shopping mall, and Cemil Türün tells us that another twenty are negotiating to set up shop there. By the end of the year he would like to have brought another hundred or so into the plaza. Among the companies that were first in line are Quiksilver (“Surf, Snow, Skate”) and MiGros, Turkey’s large supermarket chain. “With MiGros, we’ve struck a partnership which enables customers to use their loyalty points when they buy online and to gain points which they can use when they buy in-store,” Turun tells us. In a short while it should also be possible to access Yogurtistan on a dedicated website and via a mobile app.