Canada Post has launched Maple Grove in the online 3-D environment of Second Life. The virtual city features stores for such real-world retailers as Toys ‘R’ Us and Brookstone.
Don Davis , Editor in Chief
Second Life’s roster of commercial establishments is expanding again with retail representation from Canada. Canadian direct marketing services and logistics vendor Canada Post has launched Maple Grove in the online 3-D environment of Second Life. The virtual city features virtual stores for real-world retailers ranging from Toys ‘R’ Us to Brookstone.
The retailers represented in Maple Grove are all in the Lookbook catalog, a catalog of Canadian catalogs published by Canada Post twice a year to showcase its retailer partners. Maple Grove and its stores are located on Second Life “land” – basically, a server – acquired by Canada Post from Second Life owner Linden Research Inc. The retailers don’t pay to lease their virtual storefronts, but they do pay Canada Post a monthly maintenance fee. Maple Grove includes both U.S. and Canadian retailers that participate in the Lookbook catalog.
The virtual stores aren’t transaction-enabled in the Second Life environment, but visitors can click on selected items in Maple Grove`s stores to be delivered to a retailer’s e-commerce site. “There are hundreds of thousands of Canadians in Second Life,” says Laurene Cihosky, senior vice president for Canada Post’s direct marketing division. “We want Maple Grove to be a place where they are comfortable to visit because it has a uniquely Canadian feel."
To launch the site, Maple Grove hosted a six-hour virtual live music festival in which avatars perform within the Second Life environment. The company says it also will host other events in Second Life throughout the holiday season.
Each retailer will evaluate the contribution of its virtual store in Maple Grove after the holidays to determine whether to remain in the virtual city, according to a spokesperson for the company.