eBay has teamed up with Australian department store Myer to create what it say is the world’s first virtual reality department store. eBay decided on Australia because the online store noticed sizable orders of VR headsets from that country.
“It’s been important to us that we don’t just replicate the ecommerce experience in a virtual environment. We are taking the best elements of traditional retail and expanding on them to improve browsing, selection, personalization and efficiency,” Jooman Park, Managing Director eBay Australia and New Zealand states in a press release.
eBay and Myer have specially designed virtual reality viewers called “shopticals”, available for Myer customers, 15,000 of which are available free of charge. Using the shopticals, shoppers have a choice of more than 12,000 items from Myer department stores to view, select and add to their shopping carts. They do their shopping by locking their eyes on an item.
For the VR shopping experience, customers download the eBay VR Department Store app on their smart phone, and insert their phone into the shoptical with the app open to start their virtual shopping experience. Armed with a shoptical and the app customers can now shop inside a Myer store from anywhere and at any time. The app also works with established headsets.
The VR department store connects to the existing eBay.com.au API (Application Programming Interface) which updates Myer’s product range, pricing and stock information in real time, a first for virtual reality experiences globally.
eBay plans to keep a close eye on consumer behaviour within the VR department store, using the Australia initiative as a trial run for its future plans for retailing.
Market analyst BI Intelligence expects VR technology to take off within the retail market as more shopping tools become available. The market analyst notes that as VR technology gets better, it has the potential to change the e-commerce experience completely and drive in-store foot traffic down even further.
For consumers who have been hesitant to shop online because of a lack of tactile interaction with products, a VR store that gives a realistic feel of products would be a convincing ploy to get these consumers to shop online. A virtual store that lets you touch and feel products would be the next stage, if not ultimate, virtual reality department store.