Nelson Council is competing with Google and doing it much worse

Nelson City Council is so proud because you can go shopping in “virtual reality”.

Browsing Nelson shops from home or work (or anywhere in between) has become a reality, virtually.

Nearly 170 central city retailers have opened their doors to virtual reality shoppers as part of the revamped website of Uniquely Nelson, the council-funded body charged with promoting the CBD.

Visitors to can now “walk into” 168 shops and businesses to see what’s on offer.

The “virtual walkthrough” of the city centre allows visitors to peruse the CBD’s streets, and click on bubbles called “hotspots” which take them into stores, or establishments like the Suter Art Gallery, or information centre.

Some of the hotspots would play videos and offer information about products and services, Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy said.

He described the development as technology-enhanced window shopping, that had proved very successful in America.

“It increases your foot traffic by between 40 and 50 per cent,” research from the United States showed, he said.

“Virtual reality is new in American retail, we’ll be the first city or town to launch it in New Zealand.”

The organisation had spent the last two months capturing images for the virtual reality enhancement of its website, and said businesses paid a small charge for the service.

Eight hundred businesses are on the database, with about two thirds of those in retail and hospitality.

The virtual reality component of the website was part of measures designed to help central city retailers work together, Duffy said.

“We can’t be competing with each other here because the real competition is coming from outside,” he said, referring to online retailers like Amazon.

Nelson city centre retailers should embrace the technology, he suggested, and use it to their own advantage collectively.

“There’s a certain flavour to Nelson. We’re kind of left-field, we’ve got the markets, we’ve got the outdoors, there’s a kind of sunny, funky feel to Nelson.”

But he said Nelson retailers could struggle in winter.

“For the retailers, as we look forward to the future, it’s to really push out as being one.”

What it comes down to is that someone got themselves a phone or camera with 360-degree stitching capability and once you click on the site, click on the map, move to the location, click on a bubble and then click on “more info”, your senses are assaulted with a “virtual reality” view of the street outside and the shop within.

Just like Google does it.  Except, worse.

Virtual shopping?  Can you see a list of products?  Prices?  Nope.  Perhaps you can look at the products?

Yeah, that’s going to assist in driving sales.

This is how Google 360 Business partners advertise their services

As you can see, you can MOVE through the business, whereas Uniquely Nelson requires you to load a different photo.

On Google, you are in the store and it is all about you.  With Uniquely Nelson, the people inside your store are enticed to click on adjacent stores and leave yours.

As for “Virtual reality” and “Virtual shopping” hype, stop taking money from people saying that “overseas” they increased real-life foot traffic by 40%+.

This site will never have any kind of mind-share when it competes with Google’s Street view combined with 360 Degree Merchant view and people not having to load a specific app onto their mobiles and iPads.

This is just the next iteration of someone at home thinking they can create another business listing service.  The Yellow pages saw them off one by one.  And Google has turned the Yellow pages into a quaint dinosaur.

Google’s Local Guides initiative uses crowd-sourced photos, information and videos at no cost to the retailers.

Combined with Google Street view, 360 Merchant and a decent online shop, there is no way Uniquely Nelson will ever succeed against that.

What a waste of ratepayers money.


– Katy Jones, Nelson Mail

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