Retail

eBay Launches Virtual Reality Shopping App

Could the future of shopping be coming to eBay?

EBay is bringing a virtual reality shopping app, in partnership with Australian department store Myer, in order to enable shoppers to get a more personal experience with their online shopping. That starts with what eBay calls "shoptacles," which allow shoppers to wear a VR headset in order to get that experience.

Along with that comes the launch of what eBay calls the "world's first" VR shopping app, which will give consumers access to 12,500 products. EBay said it is giving away 20,000 free VR reality headsets, which are cardboard-style viewers, to create the experience eBay hopes will turn those browsers into buyers.

EBay said it is going the low-cost route in order to make it go mainstream faster and actually be able to get into most consumers' hands.

"We believe the next channel for retail will be virtual," Steve Brennen, eBay's senior director of marketing and retail innovation, told CNET. "We don't build gimmicks ... If retailers in the future are going to have an omnichannel strategy, it will include retailing a virtual world."

For now, eBay is only testing these VR headsets to see how consumers react to the product, which is why it is giving out the 20,000 "shoptacles" as a trial run for consumers.

"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," said Brennen. "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."

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