According to The Australian Financial Review today, online marketplace eBay has partnered with Myer, a major department store in Australia, to create what it says is the world's first virtual reality department store in Australia.
The two companies will unveil the app on Thursday, which works via a smartphone inside a virtual reality headset to place shoppers inside a virtual world surrounded by products to buy.
The launch is a global first for eBay, which will closely observe how Australian shoppers behave inside virtual reality, in order to develop its broader plans for what it views as an important new retail channel.
The app works with virtual reality headsets like Samsung's Gear VR, but also with cheaper options like Google Cardboard.
Myer chief executive Richard Umbers 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."
Rather than walking around a virtual recreation of a Myer store, once wearing the VR headset, customers find themselves surrounded by images of different product categories which they can investigate further by staring at them.
eBay Australia and New Zealand senior director of marketing and retail innovation Steve Brennen said the app had taken 12 months to design, and would provide Australian shoppers with an early glimpse of the future of shopping.
"We knew Australia was ready to go first with this because we see how much VR equipment is being bought here on eBay ... from January through to April we've already sold tens of thousands of headsets."
"We really are glimpsing a future where future versions will see a shopper in Sydney shopping with a friend in New York from a store in London," Mr Brennen said.
"Personalisation will also mean in future an individual will have their own virtual reality store that is built up by their past purchases and tastes ... only showing products in their size and shape. This will make it a serious new retail channel."
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