From United States

Posted on July 26, 2023
9.8 Design
9.7 Functionality
10 Engagement
9.6 Mobile

Finding the best designs imaginable is a fun task each month. We start with a wide net, narrow things down to a design or industry category and then compare features and aesthetics. We wanted to find a site with an immersive shopping experience this time. After perusing different ways to engage customers, we decided to narrow things down to e-commerce stores and we fell in love with Bloomingdale’s 150th anniversary celebration theme. 

Engagement could be the thing that separates your store from thousands of others. When someone lands on your page, give them a reason to stay. Entertain, educate or direct them to the next step in the buyer’s journey. 

The longer you can keep someone on your page, the more likely they will buy something. People tend to remember and share sites that are unique and serve a purpose. 

Winner: Bloomingdale’s

bloomingdale's 150th anniversary immersive shopping experience

Revenue in the e-commerce industry will increase to $1.4 trillion by 2027. Finding a way to stay fresh in customers’ minds is tough. 

With the upcoming and continued growth of e-commerce, expect sites to do more and more to stand out. They’ll tap into new technologies and feature things such as the immersive shopping experience Bloomingdale’s added. 

We chose them as our winner because they held our attention. We kept browsing around to see what products were featured, find the three elements for their game and because it was almost as much fun as a simulation game. The design was like a cross between virtual reality, where you step into a new world and walk around, and the 360-degree view videos real estate agents use. 

What Does Bloomingdale’s Sell?

The retail giant has been around for decades but is best known for clothing and accessories. Lyman and Benjamin Bloomingdale founded the luxury department store chain in 1860 in New York City. They started with a small bazaar on the east side of the city and expanded from there. Today, they have over 54 different locations. 

The brand has always been and likely always will be about cutting-edge fashions of the day. They continue that tradition by offering designer clothing in stores and online. 

Some of the brands you’ll find in their stores include: 

  • Alexander McQUEEN
  • Botkier
  • Charles David 
  • Cartier 
  • Dolce & Gabbana 
  • Marc Jacobs

You’ll find everything from lingerie to outer wear to shoes and handbags in their offerings. The thing that makes them stand out from other retailers is their commitment to carrying only the highest quality in fashion and function. 

bloomingdale's designers a to z

Why We Chose Bloomingdale’s as Our Site of the Month

When it comes to e-commerce stores, you might think this one isn’t anything special at first glance. They have the same types of descriptions, photos and layout as many other online retailers. Although everything is professional, the typical function of the site isn’t the reason we selected this one.

We try to choose smaller businesses when possible to highlight that anyone can learn and create an amazing website for their business. However, Bloomingdale’s immersive online shopping experience is well worth noting. We think you can learn a lot from what they’re doing. We featured Murano Glass as another e-commerce store and went into more detail about what elements to include if you feel unsure for your own site. 

The aesthetics, navigation, images and other elements are spot on for the main site, so we wanted to focus on the immersive experience and how it works. It is set up like a 360-degree interactive video. As you move throughout the images, you can click and interact, add items to your shopping bag, collect objects toward a reward and just have fun. All screenshots were collected from Bloomingdale’s website. Here is the journey:

View of the Building

As you land on the page, you are shown a view of the building. It’s clear where you should enter but you can also pan around and look at the cityscape in the virtual world you’ve just landed in. 

view of bloomingdale's building

Double click to move forward and follow the arrows on the floor. There is also signage inside the building to point the way. 

Playing Games

bloomingdale's games

As you enter the building, you’re greeted with a bubble that has an object inside of it. The object is a brown bag to signify the shopping bag you can add items to while browsing. We like the clean, crisp look of the design with a lot of white and pops of color from featured products and images.

Pop Ups

surprise awaits popup

Bloomingdale’s also utilizes popups to lead the way. Note when you click on the brown bag, a popup box explains you can win a surprise by collecting three objects. As you click on them in the bubbles, the icons will go from black and white to colored. 

Adding in a task for the user to complete makes the process more interactive. Locating each item turns the journey into a game. The user only has to find three things to reveal the surprise, so they are likely to continue until they collect them all. 

Take a Ride

bloomingdale's takes you on a trip

Bloomingdale’s makes the world quite like a VR game by adding in a shuttle ride where you see what looks like the inside of a subway or tram and you see objects moving past as though you are going to a new location. When you exit the doors, you are thrown into a unique world called Forty Carrots. 

Build New Worlds

forty carrots bloomingdale's

Statista predicts the metaverse market will reach $490.40 billion by 2030, with a growth rate of almost 37% annually. People love new worlds and immersing themselves in new, fantastical worlds. 

Bloomingdale’s creates a bright, candy world where you go into a single white building and can serve yourself ice cream. The only real purpose is to have fun and show how unique their store is. You then take the shuttle back to the store.

product highlights bloomingdale's

As you continue to explore the building, you come across rooms with just a few products at a time. By featuring only a handful of objects in each location, Bloomingdale’s gives users a hyper-focus. You can add some items to your shopping bag or interact with them in various ways. 

bloomingdale's virtual shuttle

Once you collect the three bubble objects, you unlock the 59th Street subway ride and get info on how they’ve updated their store to celebrate the anniversary. They also have a video you can watch with a custom message. 

highlight products bloomingdale's

They also use the opportunity to showcase custom items, such as a bear cookie jar, created as anniversary additions. Add them to the bag at the same time and buy them when you checkout. 

As you can see, they create a universe of their own, closely tie it to the brands they feature anyway, celebrate a big milestone and entertain consumers at the same time. We were highly impressed with Bloomingdale’s immersive experience. 

What We Would Do Different

There isn’t much to change about the immersive experience. We would encourage Bloomingdale’s to add more for different events and change the world and specials from time to time. It was so much fun to poke around the virtual building and check things out. The site kept our staff highly engaged for a good hour, which isn’t an easy task with a bunch of design-savvy users.

You could do something similar with your site by creating a 360-degree video or even just adding a game or some objects users click on to reveal various popups with surprises or information. Taking the time to build out such an engaging experience may seem tedious, but the result will be highly engaged users who tell their friends to visit your site.

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