Following a 2020 pilot program with McEwan Don Mills that it describes a “a huge success,” grocery delivery service Inabuggy is expanding its 3D virtual grocery shopping portal to include Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market.
The service will enable Torontonians to virtually “walk through” the famed Market and shop with approximately 25 vendors using the service’s app and website. Users navigate through a 3D environment featuring clickable links to specific products such as meats, fish, produce, baked goods and dairy products.
“For customers that have never been to the St. Lawrence Market, it would be a shame for them to not see the Market, the vibrant colours and brickwork and all that is the market,” says Akram Hasanov, director of growth and strategy for Inabuggy. “They are able to seamlessly walk through the space, and they can look left or right, or look up.” He likens it to using Google Street View for navigation.
Inabuggy first began offering groceries from the St. Lawrence Market last year, but the 3D component brings one of the city’s premiere shopping destinations to life at a time when consumers are increasingly shopping online.
Hasanov calls the program a “natural next step” in the partnership with St. Lawrence Market, saying the company’s vision is for the 3D virtual space to provide a new way for customers to access the Market’s vendors.
“Virtual shopping has really been validated for us by the growing number of customers that use the feature every single day,” says Hasanov. “We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback.”
Hasanov did not divulge how many people are using Inabuggy’s 3D service, but says they represent a “very large portion” of its customer base. “We know that a large portion of purchasing decisions are made in-store, and that has really been validated by the results we’re seeing,” he says. “Comparing [the 3D environment versus the traditional environment] there’s definitely an increase in basket size.”
Hasanov says there is a continued move towards people shopping in a virtual environment and predicts it can ultimately become the default mode for online shopping. “We believe that’s the way the Market is headed—improving that shopping experience from the comfort of home,” he says. “It’s still some ways off, but that’s where we’re headed.”
St. Lawrence Market spokesperson Samantha Wiles says its partnership with Inabuggy has been instrumental in helping the Market and its vendors respond to the shifts in food retail brought about by the pandemic.
“A part of shopping at the Market has always been the in-person experience, seeing the vibrant colours, historic setting and amazing products,” she says. “We are excited to be able to take some of the Market’s magic online with this new virtual experience, allowing more people to access Market vendors in new ways.”