Many start of the year predictions rarely come to pass, but when it comes to virtual reality it seems 2016 may just be the year that it truly starts to go mainstream: gamers has latched on, virtual reality porn has become a thing, and Myer has today announced the launch of a new virtual reality store in partnership with eBay.
Myer first linked up with eBay in February to give consumers a new way to engage with and shop from them online, launching a store on the eBay platform featuring a curated range of products. Now the two companies are looking to VR with an app that works with established headsets as well as their own cheaper version, a cardboard ‘shoptical’.
The app will allow consumers to enter a virtual department store, where they can browse over 12,000 products and add them to their virtual cart by locking eyes on the cart. By keeping their eyes on a product users will be able to view pricing information and stock numbers, which will be updated in real time through a connection to the eBay API. However, there is still some way to go to getting consumers through the whole experience in VR, with payment still needing to be made through the eBay website.
Jooman Park, managing director of eBay Australia and New Zealand, said, “It’s been important to us that we don’t just replicate the ecommerce experience in a virtual environment. We are taking the best elements of traditional retail and expanding on them to improve browsing, selection, personalisation and efficiency.”
Steve Brennen, CMO and senior director of retail innovation at eBay ANZ, said: “eBay has always been in the business of predicting the future of retail, and most importantly creating it. With the world’s first virtual reality department store, we have challenged ourselves to build an exciting and engaging experience that makes browsing and selecting products easier than ever before.”
Brennen said the companies are giving away 15,000 shopticals for free first up in order to get “invaluable” insights and feedback that will help refine the technology and “build out experiences that take retail to the next level.”
Myer and eBay are the latest in a line of big companies to dip their toes into VR this year, with the real estate space emerging as a particularly keen early adopter, with data from real estate listing website Realestate.com.au finding that users were spending 52 percent longer on project profiles featuring 3D tours than those without.
To develop this interest further, the platform has partnered with virtual tour startup Scann3d and property developer BPM to create self guided 3D tours for unfinished apartments, while its parent company News Corp earlier this year also acquired a majority stake in real estate marketing platform DIAKRIT, which produces 3D and rich media content that helps people visualise their dream home, in February.
A number of smaller Australian startups are also working with VR across other sectors, from Opaque Multimedia creating a VR experience to help carers of people with dementia understand what it’s like to live with the condition to Melbourne’s MarineVerse looking to help teach users how to sail through VR.
Image: Steven Brennen.