Virtual reality (VR) is the buzz everywhere. With multiple companies working to bring the technology to an affordable level, it becomes easier to integrate it into the modern lifestyle. In particular, virtual reality is offering an entirely new way to consume products, marrying the convenience of online shopping with the benefit of the in-person experience. Instead of just viewing a product online, you can now experience it without having to leave your home. VR speeds up the buyer journey process, enabling seamless research, trial and purchase. This new distributed commerce experience resonates with today’s world—we can literally buy anything from anywhere.

Now it’s Alibaba’s turn to bring VR to consumers through its VR shopping experience.

Called Buy+, it requires a simple cardboard VR headset and smartphone to browse items in a virtual mall as if you were walking through the physical structure yourself. It’s like playing a video game but, unlike video games, you can make real-time purchases, thanks to the system’s integration with Alipay. It’s as simple as navigating a virtual interface, so there is no need to remove the VR headset until you have done shopping.

Both Netflix and Hulu have their own VR programs and Amazon could even create virtual celebrity shopping companions, so that you could buy pet toys with a virtual Tom Cruise. An Amazon virtual shopping mall would be an amazing experience, not just for the consumer, but for the next generation of sellers as well. And, in 2016, McDonald’s gave users headsets and transported them inside a Happy Meal box. Armed with a virtual paintbrush, they decorated the box in wild colors, while surrounded by all the trappings of a Happy Meal.

So, for leading retailers and suppliers, VR serves to-day as the innovation engine to plan, research, collaborate and execute shopper-led innovation across their global organisations.