In the war for customers, China’s largest e-commerce players, Alibaba and JD.com, are taking their battle for dominance virtual. Click To Tweet
Alibaba struck the first blow when it previewed Buy+ in July, its first virtual reality (VR) store, which will allow users to select clothing, accessories and other items via a 360-degree panoramic viewer and a robotic assistant. GnomeMagic Lab, an arm of Alibaba, has begun the process of creating models of some of the retailer’s nearly 1 billion items for sale on its Taobao website. The company also hopes to develop tools to allow its merchants and brands to create their own virtual reality shops.
“We don’t want to miss the future development of VR and AR technologies. They could provide better shopping experiences and bring convenience to our lives. At the same time, innovative technologies can drive the development of JD’s future business.”
—Long Yu, chief human resources officer, JD.com, to China Daily
“VR technology will help customers have a vivid experience,” Zhao Haiping, an engineer at GnomeMagic Lab, told AllChinaTech. “In the near future, customers could be experiencing shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York while sitting at home.”
Not to be outdone, Alibaba’s archrival JD.com announced plans in late 2016 to build VR and augmented reality (AR) access points on its website. According to China Daily, for example, the company will launch an AR home decoration product that will allow customers to view a couch in various positions in their homes or a paint color on their walls.
“We don’t want to miss the future development of VR and AR technologies,” Long Yu, chief human resources officer at JD.com, told China Daily. “They could provide better shopping experiences and bring convenience to our lives. At the same time, innovative technologies can drive the development of JD’s future business.”
By seeking to gain an edge in this emerging marketplace, Alibaba and JD.com are not only enhancing customer experience, they are also looking to tap into a VR and AR industry that Goldman Sachs estimates could reach $110 billion by 2025.