Why We Invested In Obsess

By Yelena Shkolnik

A platform building the future of digital shopping experiences

In our recent blog posts we have been trying to answer a core question: why is in-store shopping fun, while ecommerce experiences aren’t? Why do retailers spend so much on visual merchandising to create a magical in-store path to purchase, while in ecommerce those same retailers hope consumers will successfully navigate hundreds of image tiles on their own to pull together a cart?

We have found no good answers, but we have found a number of really compelling solutions. Today we are very excited to announce our investment in Obsess, a virtual store platform enabling immersive digital experiences that can bring an engaging end to all that endless browsing.

Unlike many existing efforts to replicate physical goods in augmented or virtual reality, Obsess requires no headsets from the customer, and doesn’t require a huge lift or a catalog of 3D assets from the brands it serves. Despite this, the ultimate experience is captivating, fluid and photorealistic – enabling a digital shopper to ditch the search bar and endless jpg’s for a delightful experience centered around discovery and entertainment.

With such a great UI and a flexible virtual environment, brands and retailers are already getting creative with the tremendous potential of the platform. Customers are using Obsess to create virtualized physical stores or imaginative store-like experiences, digital showrooms for wholesale buyers, virtual product launches, virtual complements to facilitate buy-online-pickup-in-store strategies and even virtual malls.

Imaginative platforms like this would historically get caught in endless pilots, failing to gain real adoption across a retailer’s organization. But we believe COVID has changed software adoption in this sector. As the last few months saw rapidly accelerated ecommerce adoption and shuttered retail outlets, brands have refocused away from wholesale to building their ecommerce identities. Those brands have made a commitment to rapidly and broadly adopt what works, and Obsess is proving value for the largest logos across a wide variety of product categories – Chanel, Coach, Party City, Ralph Lauren, to name a few.

Ultimately at the core of Obsess and our enthusiasm to invest is the company’s exceptional leader, Neha Singh. It is hard to imagine a better background to take on the challenge of reimagining ecommerce experiences: she has led engineering and product teams at Google, Vogue and a digitally-native luxury goods marketplace. Two things resonated in all our customer calls. The first was an excitement about the capabilities of the solution, with customers eagerly telling us about the groups and avenues they were eager to bring the platform to. The second was the passion for working with Neha, with customers across the board telling us how excited they were to partner with her.

We are thrilled to have made this investment and to join Team Obsess. We are also excited to make this new bet in the retail space, a longtime focus area for us, and to continue investing behind our thesis that one day a virtual shopping trip will be more fun than the real thing.

By Yelena Shkolnik

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