JD.com go­ing into VR bat­tle with Alibaba

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By OUYANG SHIJIA andMENGJING Con­tact the writ­ers at ouyang­shi­jia@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and mengjing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s sec­ond-largest B2C online plat­form JD.com Inc is gear­ing up to use vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy on its online shop­ping plat­form in a bid to catch up with its archri­val Alibaba GroupHold­ing Ltd.

OnTues­day, theNas­daq-listed online re­tailer an­nounced its am­bi­tious plan to build a vir­tual re­al­ity and aug­mented re­al­ity-en­abled online shop­ping experience that can beat those of­fered by brick-and­mor­tar stores.

“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,” said Long Yu, chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer at JD.com.

To­gether with third par­ties, the com­pany will launch the AR home dec­o­ra­tion prod­uct. With the AR shop­ping app, users can “see” vir­tual items in a real en­vi­ron­ment, such as the po­si­tion of a sofa and the color of the wall­pa­per. At the same time, users can have a real-time conversation with de­sign­ers to dis­cuss the in­te­rior lay­out of their home.

Apart fromAR, JDcur­rently uses VR tech­nolo­gies on 3C (com­puter, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and con­sumer elec­tron­ics), home ap­pli­ances and other fields. Putting on a VR head­set, users can pick up the se­lected prod­uct and viewit in 360 de­grees.

In Fe­bru­ary, JD’s ri­val Alibaba in­vested inUS-based mixed re­al­ity startup Magic Leap. Then it an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of its own VR re­search lab, GnomeMagic Lab. And in July, Alibaba pro­vided a pre­view of its “Buy+” vir­tual store at the Taobao Maker Fes­ti­val in Shang­hai.

Ac­cord­ing to a jointly is­sued VR & AR mar­ket anal­y­sis Long Yu, re­port by JDand in­ter­na­tional data group IDG, as the VR mar­ket de­vel­ops rapidly, the fourth quar­ter will usher in full-blown com­pe­ti­tion.

“With JD’s key busi­ness ly­ing in online shop­ping malls, VR and AR tech­nolo­gies will help im­prove the im­pact of com­mod­ity dis­plays, and boost the com­pany’s busi­ness. As a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of B2C plat­forms, JD’s main users are peo­ple aged be­tween 20 to 35 with medium to high in­comes, who are aware of VR and AR tech­nolo­gies,” said Zhao Zim­ing, an an­a­lyst at Bei­jing­based in­ter­net con­sul­tancy Analysys.

How­ever, James Yan, re­search di­rec­tor at Coun­ter­point Tech­nol­ogy Mar­ket Re­search, said in an ear­lier in­ter­view that the ap­pli­ca­tion of VR in e-com­merce would need more time to take off be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to make peo­ple form the habit of us­ing VR tech­nol­ogy to shop. “And VR­con­tent for shop­ping is also in des­per­ate need,” he said.

On Tues­day, JD also an­nounced its co­op­er­a­tion with do­mes­tic VR man­u­fac­turer Bei­jing Baofeng Mo­jing Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd over the next three years, to sell 15 mil­lion VR head­sets.

We don’t want to miss the fu­ture devel­op­ment of VR and AR tech­nolo­gies.” chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer at JD.com

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

A boy tries VR games at an ur­ban sci­ence fes­ti­val in Bei­jing.

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