IBM has put Sears into Second Life. I get the feeling it was more IBM's idea rather than the retailers idea. We go there in Second Life because they are big in the real world and not because the stores are interesting. It is interesting when you are new to Second Life, but once you see it you are not so interested in going back.
If properly developed, it might be interesting. In the Sears store you can select the color of the kitchen cabinets and also the texture of the countertops quicky and view them in the virtual world, walk around and see how it hits you. That part is interesting, but it is really more of a proof of concept than a real attempt at selling anything. If Sears put some money into it and put their brands in there and made lots of options changeable and maybe saveable in some respect I think they might have something.
One thing that would really help the business presence of ANY company in Second Life would be to have real live people in avatars in the store to interact with the customers when they come in. There are too many stores in Second Life that are just empty stores. There needs to be someone there with store hours or someone on standby who can jump in there when someone comes to the store. That part of second life is like the first, you need people there to interact with customers.
The Circuit City store is the store that is a bit to like the real thing. You walk in and there are video trailers playing on the big screen TV and there are products on the shelves like DVDs and games. You can look at the DVDs that are too scale, click on the product and then go to the web site where you can purchase the item. What is bad about this is that the DVDs or games are to scale. In SL they are just too hard to see.
WellgoUSA, DVD and video company, is in the process of putting together an office. In their office or mall area, the DVDs are about 12 feet tall. Guess what, you can read the DVD cover! They also have at least one video preview of the title. When you click on the DVD you can go to a web site to purchase the item.
Even though Second Life is a simulation of real life, I think most people have been slow to start to change things around a bit to adapt to the new environment. Some things are still interesting and needed, but some are not.Food and drink are out. Just not much fun in putting a coke bottle in your hand or sitting down and watching your avatar bring a fork to his mouth. Flying is fun..
So even though it is worthwhile to keep a bit of the real world in SL, companies need to stop just trying to copy the real world and try to better adapt to SL and see what works in there and what is fun in there.