With delivery drones and instant order buttons, it's getting easier and easier to shop without ever leaving the house, but there's still something nice about actually going to a physical store. Virtual reality might soon become a good middle ground, as online shopping giant eBay teams up with Australian retailer Myer to create what they claim is the world's first virtual reality department store.
Via the eBay VR Department Store app and a VR headset, shoppers can browse, examine and purchase over 12,000 items in the Myer catalog. Like other VR menu systems, users can scan through options with head and eye movements, and with a process dubbed "eBay Sight Search", shoppers select items by fixing their gaze on it for a short time. This brings the product up for a closer look, and displays details like its specifications, size, price, availability, and shipping options.
Most of the items will be presented as 2D photos, but the top 100 products will be viewable in three dimensions, letting users rotate, zoom in, and examine them in greater detail. As you shop, the store is also designed to get better at personalizing what and how it presents to users.
"It's been important to us that we don't just replicate the e-commerce experience in a virtual environment," says Jooman Park, Managing Director at eBay Australia and New Zealand. "We are taking the best elements of traditional retail and expanding on them to improve browsing, selection, personalization and efficiency."
The eBay VR Department Store app is already available on iOS and Android in Australia, and it connects to the existing eBay app to finalize purchases. eBay is also giving away its own Google Cardboard-like VR headsets for use with a smartphone, called "Shopticals". However, the store works just fine with Google's models or other headsets like the Samsung Gear VR.
No word yet on when the VR Department Store will be available outside Australia, but with eBay at the helm, it seems likely the company will partner with retailers in other regions if the store proves a success.
The video below introduces the VR department store.