I just received another email from Paul Hemp (you might recall him from an earlier post of mine – reLink) that included a link to his latest article over on the Harvard Business Review titled “Are You Ready for E-tailing 2.0?” (Link – good while supplies last). Those who’ve been active inside virtual worlds the last year or so won’t really be hearing anything new, but importantly people who read Hemp’s article are probably not active and still new to the whole idea of conducting business inside online 3D spaces. The question is: will they see the big picture? I’m not sure they will, even with the Harvard Business Review effectively telling them this is the future of online retail. Considering that the opportunity to get in and learn the ropes before the competition only comes once, I’m a little amazed we’re not seeing quite a bit more activity already. It’s certainly not cost prohibitive.
Truth be told, I suspect most marketers see this as only advertising and want to know what the returns are going to be in the context of that perception. It doesn’t seem as if anyone wants to invest in learning. Personally, I believe they need to put these early efforts under the R&D umbrella and expect losses… just like conducting early tests and research in any new technology. Because if they don’t, they may find themselves regretting missing the opportunity. And in my opinion, there won’t be many as big after this.