Virtual retail trailblazer Emperia has raised £8.1 million in funding.

The company, based in London and New York, was founded in 2018 by Olga Dogadkina and Simonas Holcmann. In 2021 Dogadkina told our sister publication TechBlast that the idea sparked when she was consulting for Microsoft on a fashion-related project and tried virtual reality for the first time.

“It just blew my mind: I thought ‘this is what’s going to change the way people shop’. You can create a picture for people who are sitting at home enjoying a glass of wine; they can enjoy a shopping experience they would normally only be able to access in-store,” she said.

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By building a virtual space in full 3D – either a digital copy of a physical store or showroom, or a completely different concept – it can recreate the brand’s collection with 100% precision, allowing for a detailed 500% zoom on products with full material and colour integrity.

The platform claims to have driven increased conversion rates for its brand partners by an average of 73%, with an average return on investment of 750%. Its partners include Bloomingdale’s, Dior, Burberry, Lacoste, Christie’s and Sunglass Hut, as well as Getty Images. The main image shows a virtual ski chalet store created for Ralph Lauren.

The £8.1m round was led by Base10 Partners and joined by investors including Daphni (via its retail fund Dastore), Sony Innovation Fund, Background Capital, Stanford Capital Partners and Concept Ventures, as well as angel Jay Radia.

The company intends to use the funds to grow its team, charge the capabilities of its virtual retail platform and bring ‘metaverse eCommerce’ to new international markets and retail sectors.

Founder of immersive tech firm Emperia takes fashion world by storm

“We are strong believers in data-reliance and as such all our virtual experiences are developed incorporating analytics, which is reflected in layout, design, user experience and merchandise placement,” said Dogadkina. 

“Crucially, we’re doing this in a way that has a demonstrable impact on sales, traffic, engagement and brand perception.

“I’m confident that the pool of participating investors in this round, from both the U.S and Europe, will make for a great network of advisors as Emperia continues its global expansion, pioneering eCommerce’s next generation. I’m looking forward to delivering an even more impactful experience for our brand partners.”

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