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Boulanger Opens the First French 3D Internet Store With IBM


Innovative New Service Allows Consumers to View and Learn About Products in 3D at Boulanger Island in Second Life

PARIS and ARMONK, NY - Boulanger, a French retail company specializing in leisure, multimedia and households products, with the help of IBM (NYSE: IBM) Research and Global Business Services, a worldwide player in 3D universes for enterprises, has implemented a new distribution channel using 3D Internet and virtual worlds. This project, implemented for Englos Boulanger Store (near Lille, north of France), is part of Boulanger’s multichannel strategy to develop a 3D universe to complement their stores and Internet site. This will allow the French retailer to offer its customers innovative and complementary services.

Consumers can now visit Boulanger Island in Second Life to view and interact with Boulanger products in a familiar context, such as in a house, click on the product of interest to directly access the website, and place an order. Other capabilities include the Service Center, where customers can learn about all the services offered by Boulanger. For example, consumers can view repair or maintenance videos, or speak with a maintenance person who can guide them through the steps to make first level repairs.

Boulanger is committed to delivering innovation to its customers, whether in its strategy or in its products and services. In 2007, the company launched its Internet e-commerce site ( and in 2008, Boulanger decided to establish a 3D presence. From the very beginning, Boulanger and IBM’s goal was to enable total integration between the three channels -- store, website and 3D Universe -- and create complementary and value-creating services for each channel. The objective for 2009 is to create an even greater interaction between the store, the website and the 3D Universe.

“Retailers have to explore new and creative digital channels to reach today’s intelligent and informed consumer,” said Colin Parris, vice president, Digital Convergence, IBM. “Boulanger’s use of the virtual worlds demonstrates the company’s capability to transcend traditional boundaries to provide an immersive and interactive shopping experience for customers.”

To help Boulanger meet this challenge, IBM had two objectives: develop a community aspect through the 3D universe and propose new services (configuration of kitchen, cooking lessons, guides, etc.) -- while integrating the three complementary distribution channels. The 3D Universe will also allow Boulanger to create a community between its customers. It will offer them the opportunity to talk about the products and services offered, and give Boulanger the opportunity to better understand their customers’ expectations.

“The project, developed jointly by IBM and Boulanger’s teams, was very attractive to us because of its interactive and community aspect, both vis-à-vis our customers and also for our internal teams. With this project, we want to develop various distribution channels to allow our customers to find all of our products wherever they are -- in our stores, on our Internet site or in the 3D universe, while benefiting from new services that can be easily reached,” explains Jacques Honoré, Boulanger’s CIO.

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