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Virtual Retail-ity

Like so many big things, Trillenium — a virtual reality company that caters to the retail sector — had humble beginnings.

The company’s founder and CEO, Hrvoje Prpic, describes himself to PYMNTS as a “serial entrepreneur.” He founded his first company in 1997 from his garage in Croatia with $500 in his pocket. That grew into a business that IPO’d in 2007, at the time grossing $20 million in revenue.

Prpic went on to invest in Croatia’s first ever startup and helped to found the first Croatia Business Angels Network, which has since transformed the way new businesses are able to operate in the region. Among other companies, Prpic invested in Trillenium, a virtual reality online shopping company, which he went on to run. Trillenium started by bringing 3D shopping to the people and later segued into a virtual reality platform.

“It’s not better [than 3D],” clarifies Prpic of the technology born of it. “It’s different.”

He goes on to say that Trillenium thinks about its customers as falling into two types: generally speaking, that’s male and female.

“Men prefer what we call ‘search and destroy’ style shopping,” Prpic observes, “which is where they have a specific item they are looking for and want to find it and purchase it as quickly as possible. For women, it’s more about browsing and discovery. Really, the catalog style of online shopping does not cater to what they are looking for.”

This has presented a huge opportunity for Trillenium, which can allow shoppers online to virtually go into a store and browse items, finding products along the way that they didn’t realize they wanted to purchase.

“We are finding that they enjoy that more than the standard catalog style of eCommerce that dominates the online shopping landscape today,” remarks Prpic.

When asked how big of a leap it is technologically for retailers to make the move from their current 2D catalog style of online shopping to the 3D model, Prpic doesn’t mince words and answers openly: “Right now, it’s very difficult and very expensive.”

But with the company’s plan for expansion and brand partnerships, the technology will become cheaper and more accessible, ultimately being available to nearly all retailers. And that, says Prpic, speaks to Trillenium’s reason for being.

“In two and a half or three years’ time, this technology will be available to everybody,” the founder attests. “By 2019, the plan is to be running virtual pop-up stores for major brands.”

Trillenium recently announced a merger with ASOS, through which the major retailer has infused the company’s development with new capital, allowing it to go after the larger brand partnerships that Prpic mentioned, ultimately creating these lucrative virtual reality “adventures” for shoppers online. Trillenium and ASOS will split the revenues from these partnership deals, thus making it a win for both parties and infusing more capital back into the company to support the growth of its virtual reality platform.

The company’s goal is to have a presence in 150 online stores over the next two to three years. This would give brands the ability to load images of products into an online database and give shoppers the ability to upload pictures from their mobile phones while browsing in stores, thus creating an even larger database to allow even more rich online shopping experiences. Shoppers can then use these images, converted into 3D form, to create outfits in a virtual fitting room or place furniture in a simulated home environment that mimics their own space.

When asked how excited online retailers are about this emerging technology, Prpic says, “They are very excited; we could have at least 50 customers right now.”

However, not all meet Trillenium’s threshold for size. “ASOS, by comparison,” notes Prpic, “has 88 million unique visits per month to their website.”

Trillenium needs that kind of consumer volume to make the investment of its development time and resources worthwhile. The company hopes to eventually bring the technology to a larger cross-section of businesses, but for the meantime, it has its sights set squarely on the largest players in the eCommerce space.

In the case of brick-and-mortar retailers that might be worried that Trillenium’s technology could eat into more of their profits, luring customers away from their stores and deeper into online and mobile shopping, Prpic offers an assuagement.

“We have several different ways that major department stores, for example, can take advantage of this technology,” he concludes. “We do offer the ability for major retailers to recreate their flagship stores online. Apple, for example, can give people the ability to experience their 6th Avenue store [in New York] from anywhere in the world.”

Hrvoje Prpic, Founder & CEO of Trillenium, will lead a discussion on virtual reality in payments and commerce taking place at Innovation Project in Cambridge on March 16-17. Join Him!

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