IBM ( IBM) and Sears Holdings ( SHLD) unveiled a virtual showroom in Second Life during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday.

The Sears Virtual Home prototype, found on the IBM private island adjacent to the Circuit City ( CC) simulator , showcases Sears products and how each can be integrated into a real-world home.

Sears is the latest enterprise to extend its brand into Second Life, the 3-D online world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The retail giant joins the ranks of Dell ( DELL), Cisco ( CSCO), Toyota ( TM) and Sun Microsystems ( SUNW), all of which have set up homesteads in the virtual world.

The department store operator "is committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience and to looking for new and exciting ways to present our products and services," said Paul Miller, senior vice president of direct commerce with Sears Holdings, in a statement.

"The Sears Virtual Home combines the best of virtual worlds and 3-D environments so customers can experience Sears' products in a way that is closer to real life," he continued. "Sears.com already provides innovative design functionality and consistency, and this work with IBM in a virtual world is a logical extension of those initiatives."

Customers are free to experiment and customize each item made available for purchase.

For instance, in-world avatars can organize different cabinets and counter tops within a virtual kitchen, or shift home theater set-ups and visualize how an entertainment center will look in a living room.

"Our goal is to help Sears use these 3-D virtual worlds to transform how people shop, from simple appliance purchases to total kitchen makeovers," said Sandra Kearney, director of virtual worlds and 3-D Internet with IBM, in a statement.

"Customers would be able to test drive their entire dream kitchen in a 3-D virtual environment before it is actually built, which provides a powerful new tool to drive customer satisfaction and sales," she said.




Any item in the virtual Sears simulation will be available for purchase. Customers can place an order through Second Life by connecting to Sears.com. Users can then choose a delivery to an address or pick up the items at their local Sears store.

In the future, IBM and Sears hope to explore additional ways to link the real world with Second Life. The expectation is that residents visiting the Sears Virtual Home will have their friends, family members or personal designers join them in the showroom in order to provide advice.