Tech Spotlight: eBay opens virtual reality department store

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EBay is betting big on virtual reality, and on Wednesday opened what it is calling the world's first virtual reality department store.

EBay has partnered with Australian retailer Myer to create an immersive shopping experience in VR. More than 12,500 products are available to be virtually browsed and purchased using eBay's Sight Search function.

This is not a store in any physical sense. Shoppers can download the eBay Virtual Reality Department Store app for iOS or Android and then view items through a headset. It works with any VR viewer, including Samsung's Gear VR, and some 15,000 cardboard headsets being called "shopticals"are being given away to shoppers.

Once in the VR shop, viewers are offered a choice of product categories and an experience is built around their choices. An algorithm then adapts to each shopper's preferences as they move through the experience.

Viewers will be able to add products to a shopping cart by fixing their gaze on an item.

"It's been important to us that we don't just replicate the e-commerce experience in a virtual environment," said Jooman Park, managing director 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."

Retailers have been bringing VR into stores to drive excitement and let shoppers experience the technology, or testing it to drive innovation internally. But it's still early days, and eBay is among the first to allow consumers to use VR to buy goods.

For more:
- see this Mashable story
- see this eBay video and press release

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