Just been to visit the IBM SEARS building in SL. This is a first introduction to one of the more obvious uses of SL - providing the ability to walk around a virtual store and play with the goods.
The building has 3 main areas - Kitchen, Garage and Living Room. These are used to demonstrate some kitchen layouts and appliances, garage storage and home cinema equipment respectively. Just at present, the demos are rather crude - touching an appliance brings up a link to the relavent web page, though there is a neat feature in the kitchen area whereby you can change the appearance of work surfaces and cubpoard fronts at the touch of a mouse.
From a kitchen design perspective, the next step must be to provide a 3-D design sandbox - with "standard" appliances and units to fit into a model kitchen of your own creation. The likes of IKEA and B&Q have such software available on their web sites as a stand-alone application, but it would be so much neater to have the facility within SL.
I think the Sears site provides an interesting prototype - though requires FAR more information / products to be made available before it is a viable commercial channel.
Perhaps this is something to ponder for SL and RL Retail - you need to have the range of stock available before you can attract many punters.
Once useful feature of the Sears store was that you only needed to click a transporter ball within a display area to be whisked away into the prototype kitchen or living-room. Far quicker than having to walk for miles from one location to another.....and in keeping with the comment in my last post - that SL inhabitants do more teleporting than flying!