Take a short five-minute drive from Ala Moana Beach and you can find yourself at Blue Planet Surf; yet for those who aren’t on the island of O’ahu, all it actually takes is a single click of the mouse. The company’s name was inspired by the view of water’s vast coverage of the earth’s surface; and, in that same light, Blue Planet is offering a comprehensive inside view of their shop, generating virtual business by way of 3D reality capture.
I wouldn’t say it’s ‘hands-on’ but it’s about as close as you can get without actually being there” - Robert Stehlik, Owner, Blue Planet Surf
Since 1993, in what began as a business school project at the University of Hawai’i by founder Robert Stehlik, the shop has prided itself on creating an authentic Hawai’i surfer’s experience for customers from the heart of downtown Honolulu. It’s an experience that now extends to its audience from anywhere, at any time and on any device after one day in July, when Stehlik was paid a visit by Jordan Shamir.
“[Jordan] walked into the shop, said he does 3D tours and showed us a link. The technology was just amazing,” said Stehlik.
Shamir runs a company called 3deyehawaii.com that specializes in immersive 3D experiences designed for businesses of all shapes and sizes. As it turns out, it wasn’t the Blue Planet crew’s first exposure to immersive tour technology either. “We had a tour, but you could just jump from one spot to the next,” said Stehlik. “It just wasn’t that impressive added Kevin Fung, the operations manager at Blue Planet.
A uniquely fluid and immersive experience was the result and in the short time since it’s been live, it’s also translated into increased engagement for their business. In just over a month’s time, Blue Planet’s 3D tour has generated 658 impressions and 554 visits, according to Shamir. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘hands-on’ but it’s about as close as you can get without actually being there,” said Stehlik.
While the surf shop has enjoyed the increased organic traffic to their website, it didn’t all come out of nowhere. With the ability to add “Mattertags,” which includes other media at different points of your choosing inside their virtual business experience, the Blue Planet team got creative. “We had the idea of doing a treasure hunt and it’s been surprising to see how many people have done it,” said Stehlik.
There are a number of hidden items throughout the store and finding them all will earn you a free t-shirt or hat. In the short time since it’s been running about half of the prizes have been claimed, for those interested in trying their hand.
The benefits of posting additional information in the form of “Mattertags” right at the fingertips and cursors of customers online didn’t end there. “When I offered what I could do with Mattertags, Robert took full advantage of it so people could look at all that additional content,” said Shamir.
As the user navigates the store, those “Mattertags” are found, strategically placed around different products. Hover over the icon and more information will appear along with a link that goes directly to the product page on the site. From there the customer can make their purchase or continue browsing the shop on their browser as if they were there.
“It just gives us credibility that were a real business and people can see all the products on display just as-is in the store,” said Stehlik. “Our customers now have the chance to browse [from anywhere] and potentially see something for next time that they didn’t know was there before.”
Blue Planet Surf is a complete shop that designed to create surf equipment for surfers, by surfers. As self-proclaimed “shepherds" of the playground that is the ocean, their herd’s access to the shop extends to ever corner of this blue planet. It’s an access virtual business for locations of all shapes and sizes the immersive, online client experience.