For a few days now Australian consumers have been able to do their shopping in virtual reality using eBay’s mobile app Virtual Reality Department Store. A mobile shopping app created in partnership with the Australian department store Myer. It lets its customers buy products in a virtual store. To that end, customers can request one of the 20,000 shopticals (the equivalent of Google’s cardboard) online or in a Myer store or have a Samsung Gear VR.
To start the experience, the shopper runs the mobile app on his smartphone, which he places in his shoptical. The virtual reality store is linked to eBay’s API, which updates prices, stocks and product details…
Customers can then browse a Myer virtual store of more than 10,000 listed products and select the products they want simply by looking hard at them. eBay’s Sight Search technology does the rest, recognizing the product to select it, and the customer only has to move his head to see the product information sheet or add the product to his basket, once again simply by looking hard at the basket icon.
On the other hand, checkout takes place in the eBay application, not in the virtual reality application.
The virtual world and store concept is somewhat reminiscent of the ill-fated initiatives that took place nearly ten years ago on Second Life. So why is eBay launch out into shopping in virtual reality? Is it not doomed to failure? Given the behaviour of the Millennials (adults aged 18 to 34), who have grown up with a video game console, this experiment could prefigure what e-commerce will become within the next 5 years, offering an increasingly immersive and interactive online customer experience.
However, so far one cannot yet pay for one’s purchases in the virtual world in order to ensure a smoother customer experience. A social dimension to this virtualized shopping experience will also have to be offered, to allow customers to chat with their friends or talk to a sales assistant if they need to. This resembles a form of conversational commerce but in a virtual world (like what happens for online video games)… then the next step will consist in meeting avatars of the sales assistant and one’s friends.