James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you one of my favorite C Space Studio interviews from CES 2024. I had a lot of great conversations in Las Vegas and I know you're going to like this one, so enjoy. 


Welcome back, here in the C Space Studio with me, James Kotecki. We are together at CES 2024 and we're not alone. We're joined by Neha Singh, the CEO of Obsess. Thank you so much for coming and sharing insights with us today. 

Neha Singh (00:37): 

Thanks for having me here. 

James Kotecki (00:37): 

Obsess, I love the name Obsess. I'm obsessed with the name Obsess. The best company name maybe of any of the folks that we're going to interview today. 

Neha Singh (00:44): 

Thank you. 

James Kotecki (00:44): 

But what is Obsess? 

Neha Singh (00:46): 

Yeah. Obsess is an immersive shopping platform. Our mission is to reinvent the online shopping interface. If you think about an ecommerce website today, you have a grid of thumbnails on a white background, whether you're shopping for fashion, beauty, any category, it's exactly the same as buying toothpaste on Amazon. 

James Kotecki (01:03): 


Neha Singh (01:04): 

The interface looks the same. This interface was created 25 years ago to sell books, but it hasn't changed since then. What Obsess is doing is creating immersive shopping experiences that really put the consumer in the experience of the brand, in a whole 3D branded environment. It's like bringing gaming into shopping. 

James Kotecki (01:24): 


Neha Singh (01:24): 

The same kind of interface you play in games, which is full 3D environments, you can browse through them, navigate through them, we are bringing that into shopping. 

James Kotecki (01:33): 

Are we talking about doing that on a traditional flat screen, in VR, AR, or all of the above? 

Neha Singh (01:39): 

All of the above, but the majority of our users are on their mobile devices so that's where we are mobile first, mobile optimized and it's all accessible via the web. You just open a link from Instagram, it'll open right there in the in-app browser in Instagram, or in email, SMS, on the website. It's super easy to access, making VR essentially very accessible to users and to brands. But also, more recently we launched on the Oculus Meta Quest last year and we're launch with the Apple Vision Pro in February. 

James Kotecki (02:09): 

Great. Walk me through maybe a little bit more about what this experience would be like. I don't know if you are able to share one specific brand or name, or maybe just generify it for the purposes of this conversation. I want to buy something that you're helping to make me obsessed with. 

Neha Singh (02:25): 


James Kotecki (02:25): 

What am I actually experiencing? 

Neha Singh (02:27): 

Yeah, absolutely. We work with brands from a variety of different verticals. We work with fashion brands like Dior, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, Crocs. We work with beauty brands like [inaudible 00:02:38], L'Oreal, Charlotte Tilbury. We work with CPG brands, we work with Disney. 


To give you one specific example, we launched with Crate and Barrel recently, in November. They created a virtual store that was based on their new flagship store that they opened in New York, in Flat Iron. Essentially, this is a very fantastical version of that store. It's not like the real store. You start off with this bird's eye view over Manhattan in the fall, and then you go in, and then you have this total realistic environment that is fully created in 3D where you feel like you're transported into a version of that store, instead of just seeing a grid or thumbnails of products. Then you can actually go into the living room, and you can see couches, and you can press a button to change the entire color scheme, and change it to different products. Then you go into the dining room, and there's this whole, all the plates flying off the shelves and creating this beautiful table scape. Then you can actually click on any product and see all the detail, and add it to your cart right there. 

James Kotecki (03:40): 

Got it. 

Neha Singh (03:40): 

It's a very interactive experience. A lot of experiences also have games where you're learning about the brand, or you're learning about products at every step, as you essentially experience the store and that engages customers even further. 

James Kotecki (03:55): 

It seems like that would also have not just the novelty, and excitement, and intrigue factor, which would all be there, but also utility factor, too. I can literally see how these plates look on this table, as opposed to the traditional ecommerce experience, what you're describing, where it's two different squares and it's hard for me to picture what that looks like. 

Neha Singh (04:10): 

Yeah, absolutely. The contextual piece that this kind of shopping offers is hugely important because, in traditional ecommerce, you're essentially devoid of context. 

James Kotecki (04:19): 


Neha Singh (04:19): 

What that contextual piece also does, another point besides what you mentioned, it makes you see things that you weren't necessarily looking for. When you go to a store, that often happens. You have your shopping list, but you might see something else. In ecommerce, that typically doesn't happen because it's very directed. 

James Kotecki (04:35): 


Neha Singh (04:36): 

But here, what we often see is that our average order value from our virtual stores is higher than typical ecommerce, because people might notice something that they weren't necessarily looking for and then they purchase it. 

James Kotecki (04:46): 

Can you talk to me a bit more about the psychology, and it may be brand dependent, of creating something that seems like a store? Because if you're creating what you're talking about, you could theoretically create any kind of environment, right? If Crate and Barrel, you said it's kind of like their flagship store, but it's a more fantastical version. 

Neha Singh (05:02): 


James Kotecki (05:02): 

But it's still anchored in the concept of being a store. Not every brand might necessarily need it to be a store. How do you think about that psychologically in what you're aiming for there? 

Neha Singh (05:11): 

Yeah, absolutely. We want to enable brands to express their creativity in whatever way makes sense for the particular collection, for the particular season or brand, so we actually do have lots of customers who create completely fantastical environments that don't look anything like their retail stores. 


We actually launched a virtual store for Taylor Swift as well, in November. That is a Christmas tree farm, which is where she grew up. The products are, you basically shop them off of a Christmas tree. 

James Kotecki (05:39): 

If my daughter is watching this, she is going crazy right now. 

Neha Singh (05:42): 

Yeah. Check it out on her website. But yeah, we have customers who have created underwater experiences, and you can create a planet if you want. 

James Kotecki (05:50): 


Neha Singh (05:51): 

Many of our customers in beauty, they want to talk about the science behind their products so you're in a lab. 

James Kotecki (05:57): 


Neha Singh (05:57): 

It's totally dependent on what makes sense and we can also test that with the data that we have, what works and what doesn't. 

James Kotecki (06:04): 

Are you the team whose actually digitally creating the look of this? Do you have graphic designers or folks to scan products and create three-dimensional models of them, that's what Obsess is bringing to the table? 

Neha Singh (06:15): 

Yeah. We provide the software platform that all of this 3D rich technology runs on in a web browser, and we also often provide the services to actually create the environment. In some cases, our brands might have their agencies do it or their interior retail designers might do it, otherwise we can also do it. 

James Kotecki (06:34): 


Neha Singh (06:34): 

Typically, we get creative direction from the brand, though. 

James Kotecki (06:37): 

It's interesting what people are able to do, even with smartphones these days, as far as scanning an object. Then you can have a 3D version of that object on your phone, that you can interact with, and it looks really pretty good. 

Neha Singh (06:50): 


James Kotecki (06:50): 

Maybe for your purposes, you might still need a graphic designer to come over top of that, but as a starting point it's not bad. I imagine that there's going to be increased ubiquity for this kind of use case. 

Neha Singh (06:58): 

Yeah, absolutely. We firmly believe that the future of the internet is 3D because ultimately, our real world is 3D. 

James Kotecki (07:05): 


Neha Singh (07:06): 

The reason we are used to these flat screens has just been because of limitations of technology. But now, as chips are getting more powerful, GPUs are processing faster, our digital interface becomes closer and closer to the real world. Real world is visual, it's all around us, it's 3D, and ultimately our digital interface will become very much like that. These are all the starting points to that ultimate future, where you can now start to easily scan products in 3D, you can have 3D environments that are running on your phone. Ultimately, you'll be able to step into them or augment your reality, which over the last couple of years has been the starting point. 

James Kotecki (07:46): 

It's interesting to think about because some people might think about VR as a place to get lost in. You put on the goggles and you don't even need to buy clothes or furniture, because you live your entire life there. It sounds like what you're describing is maybe it's something a bit more nuanced and balanced, which is using those environments as a way to bring back to the real world something that you want, and how to create the real life reality of what you actually might want in your life. 

Neha Singh (08:07): 

Yes. At the moment, all the products in our experiences are all physical products. Ultimately, what you're buying is something real that you're getting in hand. 

James Kotecki (08:16): 

We talked obviously a lot about AR, VR. Another buzzword, the buzzword perhaps, is AI here at CES 2024. Are you thinking about using AI in any interesting or novel ways that you want to highlight? 

Neha Singh (08:28): 

Yeah, absolutely. We have actually incorporated gen AI in our production process of these experiences. In the cases where we are designing the experiences for brands, what gen AI has helped us do is we can now create so many options very quickly for brands. They can be like, "Okay, I like this, I don't like this, combine things." Before, we had to do all of that in 3D, and doing that in 3D takes much longer. Now if we can actually get that whole process down with the help of AI and finalize what the brand wants, because as you even asked earlier, there's so man creative options here. That has actually cut down our production and our go-to-market time for virtual stores. 


Then the other thing that we are using it for is to create more content in stores. We see from our data that the more content we can add to these experiences, the higher the purchase conversion rate is. For example, one of our stores is a baby registry. There, you can plug your due date and it will use gen AI to find all the names that are most common for that date, and things like that. You can imagine the possibilities of what, before somebody would have to do manually on the brand side to produce this content, now it's all automated and we can make the experience more interesting. 

James Kotecki (09:43): 

You mentioned a lot of great brands that you're already working with. Obviously, all of this is here. What are you most excited about for what's next? Is there a new ... Obviously, Apple's technology is maybe potentially the big one for the year. But is there a piece of technology or a thing that you're waiting to click into place to take you to the next level? 

Neha Singh (10:00): 

Yeah. For us, the biggest next big shift in this on the horizon is personalization. Obviously, personalization has been a buzzword regularly in ecommerce, but what it means in a 3D space is that you can walk into a virtual store and it could greet you like, "Hello, James." You would have products based on what your purchasing history, based on what your interests have been by browsing other places. The complexity there is about rendering this dynamically in 3D for every person. That's a technology we are building now and that's really ultimately our vision. 

James Kotecki (10:39): 


Neha Singh (10:39): 

Whatever ultimate device you will experience that on, we want the experience to be personalized to you. Today, the experience that you get is the same as what everybody else is getting and that's going to change. 

James Kotecki (10:50): 

Do you have other human characters, like an AI shopkeeper in there, that's going to interact with me? Or is there a philosophy around that, or is that also just brand dependent? 

Neha Singh (10:59): 

Yeah. We can do it in a few different ways, but one of the ways that's super successful and people really engage with is having real people there as avatars who are shot on a green screen background. We often have influencers, or the brand designer introducing you and welcoming you into the experience and that gets super high engagement. 

James Kotecki (11:19): 


Neha Singh (11:20): 

Then now, what we're also doing is creating more like 3D avatars of influencers who can be in the space, we also have AI sales associates who can help you answer questions. 

James Kotecki (11:31): 

If you get Taylor Swift in that Christmas tree farm, my daughter will never leave. 

Neha Singh (11:35): 

That would have been amazing. 

James Kotecki (11:36): 

We're looking forward to seeing that. Neha Singh, CEO of Obsess, thank you for joining us in the C Space Studio today. 

Neha Singh (11:41): 

Thank you so much, James. 

James Kotecki (11:43): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation from CES 2024. That's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Hit that YouTube subscribe button, leave a comment, follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart Media, or wherever you're getting this show. Get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S.T-E-C-H. I'm James Kotecki talking tech on CES Tech Talk.