Alibaba looks to virtual reality to enhance e-commerce experience

Alibaba looks to virtual reality to enhance e-commerce experience

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is all set to enter the realm of Virtual Reality (VR) with its own VR research lab called GnomeMagic Lab.

A report by TechCrunch reveals that GnomeMagic Lab will work with its shopping businesses, with a view to integrating VR into the shopping experience while exploring other applications, such as video with Youku Tudou — the Chinese video site Alibaba invested in and is in the process of acquiring. The other application could be entertainment via Alibaba Pictures.

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The report says that a press announcement revealed that former Facebook engineer Zhao Haiping, who is on Alibaba’s GnomeMagic Lab team said that VR could enable customers to shop virtually on New York’s Fifth avenue from their own home. It adds that Alibaba wants to help merchants use VR to sell on its sites. Alibaba claims to have already created VR visuals for hundreds of products. In a bid to push the plan further, the company is setting up a store dedicated to VR hardware.

Alibaba has been investing into VR and related technology. Just last month, it led a funding round and put in $793.5 million in a start up focused on augmented reality technology called Magic Leap.

Alibaba also revealed plans to enter India this year and said it was looking at opportunities to build the business organically or through other means. Alibaba Group president J. Michael Evans, along with Alibaba Group’s global managing director K. Guru Gowrappan met telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and said the company plans to come in India and work to serve both customers, consumers and small businesses because that is the history and the DNA of Alibaba.

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