The Stack Archive

Australia opens world’s first VR department store

Thu 19 May 2016

eBay, in partnership with the largest department store group in Australia, has launched the world’s first virtual reality department store. The store offers over 12,500 items for customers to examine and purchase using a smartphone app and a VR headset.

The announcement made today from eBay and Myer marks the first time a major department store has offered a complete virtual shopping experience.

eBay is giving away 15,000 units of its own VR headset, called ‘Shopticals’ which are similar to Google Cardboard headsets. Users with Shopticals can download the eBay VR Department Store app to their phones and begin shopping in virtual reality.

The app is also compatible with a number of VR headsets including Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR. Using one of these virtual reality headsets, shoppers can view items and switch between items and categories with a tracker that follows head and eye movements, called ‘eBay Sight Search.’

While the majority of the items in the virtual store will be available to view in 2D, the top 100 items may be inspected in 3D. A shopper needs only to ‘lock eyes’ on a specific product to zoom in, and product details, price, and shipping options will be displayed. The VR store also connects to the Australian eBay API, so that Myer’s products, prices and stock are updated in real time.

The Managing Director for eBay Australia and New Zealand, Jooman Park, said, “By building the world’s first VR Department Store here in Australia and observing the reactions of thousands of consumers who trial the experience, we have the opportunity to lead the world into the next phase of retailing.

It’s been important to us that we don’t just replicate the e-commerce 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.”

To this end, the app creates a personalized shopping experience for each user. At the beginning of the session, the shopper chooses areas of interest and a virtual store is custom-built around these selections. Items relevant to the indicated areas of interest are visible first.

Richard Umbers, MD and CEO for Myer, said, “Our customers can now immerse themselves in the experience of shopping inside a Myer store from wherever they may be, with product information updated in real time to ensure everyone can keep up with the latest offers from Myer. This really showcases a department store that can bring the love of shopping to life across both physical and digital environments.”


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