Imagine putting on a virtual reality headset and within a second transporting yourself into a shopping mall filled with just what you are looking for. One store may be filled with shoe brands you have purchased in the past, while the store next door may only be iPhones and iPads which are black, since black is your favorite color. This may just be the future of shopping via virtual reality if Chinese ecommerce company, Alibaba, has anything to say about things.
Today, the company, who led the fundraising for VR startup Magic Leap, is leaping into the virtual reality space themselves. Alibaba has issued a statement to the media to announce the launch of a virtual reality lab within their company. The lab will focus on enhancing the shopping experiences of the company’s 400 million+ customers, in an effort to compete with other large ecommerce firms out there, such as Amazon.com.
“VR technology can create an immersive shopping experience for users. Perhaps in the near future, users will be able to shop on Fifth Avenue in New York, while still sitting at home,” explained Zhao Haiping, an Alibaba engineer.
While we likely won’t be seeing such progress overnight, Alibaba is already working to produce the world’s largest gallery of 3D product images, which they say virtual reality developers will be able to use, and they are also working on a VR marketplace in which customers can find hardware, software, apps and peripherals for their virtual reality needs. In the long run they are looking into ways to transform the shopping experience, taking small steps into the virtual world. In fact Alibaba is preparing to issue standards for merchants to create VR-enabled shopping options fairly soon.
More than likely, as we go through the next year or two, other large corporations will jump onto the VR wave. As hardware advances take place and new apps emerge, virtual reality should be the next paradigm for digital consumption. Let’s hear your thoughts on this move in the Alibaba VR forum on VRTalk.com.