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eBay Opens 'World's First VR Department Store': Online Shopping Redefined

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Once more, eBay has redefined the meaning of online shopping by opening what it calls the world’s very first virtual reality department store.

Now, all users have to do is put on their “shoptacles” and they can already start shopping for products they want.

eBay took the leap to use virtual reality, and with the e-commerce site jumping into the bandwagon, shopping has become much better and more redefined for users.

eBay launched its virtual shopping app just this May 18. The company has joined forces with Myer, a department store in Australia. Using the Virtual Reality department store app, shoppers can browse through a wide array of Myer’s products, select the items they want and add them to their cart with a simple head movement.

To persuade Australians to shop in the virtual department store, eBay has dished out 20,000 shoptacles, which are actually Cardboard headsets, at no cost. The company chose these headsets from Google since it’s more reasonably priced, as opposed to high-end VR headsets from Sony, Oculus and HTC.

Through shoptacles, users no longer have to leave the comfort of their home, because the products are just floating around in 3D right before their eyes. The final transaction, however, is still made using a smartphone app.

eBay’s Senior Director of Marketing and Retail Innovation Steve Brennen said that the company is not only creating “gimmicks.”

“We believe the next channel for retail will be virtual," he told CNET.

The virtual reality department store is still on trial, but eBay is doing some monitoring to check out how customers are using the interface. They are also looking at analytics, such as browsing data and dwell times. The company is also thinking of making the app more personalized for every user.

"We want to get it into customers' hands and see how they respond, and then we want to adapt and take it to the next level,” he said. “We're pretty clear it's a glimpse ... but we're saying you can now start to see where the virtual shopping world will play out in the next couple of years."

Instead of hand controls, eBay’s VR department store can be navigated using the eBay Sight Search. All users have to do is hold their gaze on an item in a few seconds to select it. It’s the same for adding items to the basket. The eBay app on the handset is needed to make the final step: payment.

“Is this the next future of the retail experience?” asked Brennen. “We’re kind of believing now that it could be.”

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