An interactive 3D Virtual Farmers Market (VFM) has been launched which lets consumers browse the wares of 45 specialist food and drink producers.
The Virtual Farmers Market is initially being tested within online virtual world Second Life and is soon to be launched independently. It will then be possible to access the VFM via the iPhone and other smartphones.
VFM allows the shopper to 'stroll' freely around more than 45 market stalls where they can view products, interact with the producer and buy the artisan produced food and drink they might find in a real-life farmers market.
"The unique thing about the VFM is that it allows people to 'meet' the original producer first hand, which is often not even possible at a real life farmers market," say the developers. "From a commercial perspective, the VFM is revolutionary in that it gives smaller specialist food and drink producers and farmers the opportunity to reach new markets, and extend the scope of their business, without the need to go through the multiples. The VFM allows them 24/7 access to the already massive and growing online home shopping market."
The Virtual Farmers Market enables shopper to interact with the producers via a video stream that allows the farmers to give a brief description of the goods for sale, tell the story of how their food and drink has been produced, what ingredients have been used and where they have been sourced. Once satisfied, the shopper can add products to a virtual shopping basket for home delivery in temperature-controlled boxes.
The VFM is the brainchild of Marcus Carter, managing director of Carter Food House, and was developed by Digital Presence Solutions. "The initial response to the VFM project has been encouraging and its commercial viability appears strong," says Roger Saunt, managing director of Digital Presence. "It is inevitable that all ecommerce will drift in this direction as broadband becomes the standard in most homes, but we are the first to develop the means for local producers to sell their products to customers worldwide in a realistic 3D space."
"Seeing the face behind the food is more important today than it has ever been," adds Carter. "To be able to connect remotely by using the internet, with the people who make what we eat, enables consumers to get a sense of trust before buying."