Samsung opens VR-based online digital store

By Park Sae-jin Posted : October 18, 2021, 14:43 Updated : October 18, 2021, 14:43

[Courtesy of Samsung Electronics]

SEOUL -- Megastores and electronics stores are perfect places to have hands-on experience with various products. But some consumers hesitate to visit crowded shopping spots due to a pandemic. To help customers who are not willing to take the risk of being infected with a coronavirus, Samsung Electronics has opened a virus-free virtual reality-based online digital store where visitors can roam about freely and try different products.

The online shopping industry has grown rapidly since the first wave of a coronavirus pandemic hit South Korea in February 2020. State data showed that the online shopping market was valued at about 161 trillion won ($135.9 billion) in 2020, up 19.1 percent from a year ago. The drawback of online shopping was poor quality.

According to the Korea Consumer Agency, a state-funded consumer market research agency, the main reason for online shopping complaints was the poor quality of products. About 75 percent of complaints filed by consumers who bought electronic products through online stores were related to poor quality. Customers were unhappy because actual products were different from the item description provided by online shopping malls.

Samsung said that its virtual reality (VR)-based digital showroom accessible through a web browser started its service on October 17. Just like any other offline store, customers can move around the showroom using a mouse and gain access to detailed information by clicking on displayed products. Transactions are made through Samsung's online store.

For those who want a more personal approach, Samsung has deployed special concierges called "e-Dtailors" who engage in person-to-person communication with customers to offer personalized shopping experiences. Using a real-time video call feature, the digital concierge will show on-demand detailed shots of the product and answer questions.

"Samsung's virtual store and e-Dtailor service, designed to reflect trendy changes in the consumer culture and logistics environment, will offer a safe shopping experience regardless of time and space," Samsung's domestic distribution head director Kown Keum-joo was quoted as saying.

The ability of shopping malls to connect sellers and customers in real-time has become an important shopping trend in South Korea since 2020. A new shopping format called live commerce garnered popularity among young generations who are familiar with using a smartphone to shop.

The home shopping-like mobile shopping show involves show hosts introducing products through an online video session. Customers can ask questions about the product and hosts will answer in real-time. In November 2020, a live commerce platform launched by Kakao, the operator of South Korea's favorite messenger app, garnered 10 million views in the first six months of release.
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