Crocs, Obsess and Jibbitz … It may sound like the name of some fancy law firm or perhaps an obscure video game, but it is actually a collection of the companies that recently launched a virtual shoe store. But even with that simplification, it takes a deeper dive into the news to understand what it is and what it means to run specialty retail.

That’s especially true when the headline of a recent press release announcing the venture reads: “Obsess Partners with Crocs to Launch New Jibbitz Virtual Store and First-Ever 3D Customizer — Immersive Jibbitz Virtual Experience Features Shoppable Shoe Customizer and Nostalgic Arcade-Style Game.”

Got that? Anyway, here’s the story.

In late June, Obsess, billed as “the leading experiential 3D e-commerce platform,” launched a virtual Jibbitz shopping experience in partnership with Crocs, the well-known maker of casual footwear. The Crocs Jibbitz Experience is a virtual storytelling arena centered around self-expression, personalization, gamification and education to promote the brand’s flagship Jibbitz charms. 

The experience includes the brand’s first-ever 3D Jibbitz Customizer, a feature engineered by Obsess to provide consumers with a mix-and-match tool to create their own unique pair of Crocs with Jibbitz charms, which can then be purchased directly from the virtual experience. 

“Obsess has built a strong partnership with Crocs over the past year, whereby both of our teams are empowered to lean into innovation and new virtual technologies, like the Jibbitz Customizer,” explains Neha Singh, founder and CEO at Obsess. “The Jibbitz Experience is a perfect example of marrying personalization with discovery-driven shopping, in order to drive prolonged customer value through virtual.

“At their core, Jibbitz charms are a way for Crocs customers to express themselves through style,” Singh adds, “and our new virtual customization technology makes self-expression more accessible and creative than ever before.” 

The Jibbitz Experience is the third virtual store created by Crocs in collaboration with Obsess. The store features five virtual departments, each themed for a different Jibbitz assortment type — from Letters to Food to Animals. The Jibbitz Experience also features a nostalgic arcade-style claw machine game, in which users can collect virtual Jibbitz in order to win physical Jibbitz that cost only one cent. 

Persistent throughout the experience is a link to a Jibbitz Customizer, which includes 3D replicas of Jibbitz charms and clogs in a variety of men’s and women’s sizes. Shoppers can add up to 26 different 3D charms to a clog model and then proceed to purchase the physical version of their custom product. 

The addition of the Jibbitz Customizer is critical to Crocs’ goal of educating consumers on the types of Jibbitz charms available for purchase, while showcasing how to apply and style charms on the brand’s clog product. 

The Jibbitz Experience is available via mobile and desktop web. And while we are still not sure of how it involves run specialty retail, it does fit in with the editorial focus of this Technology Issue of Running Insight, so readers are welcome to try it out here: