Isetan store to offer virtual reality shopping

A Japanese department store operator is offering consumers the opportunity to do their shopping in virtual reality. It is targeting people who have been avoiding the physical store because of concern about crowds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings started the service through a dedicated smartphone app on Wednesday.

Shoppers can move around the virtual reproduction of the operator's flagship Isetan store in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.

Computer-generated sales clerks will appear on the screen, and customers can chat with staff at the actual department store.

Shoppers can select from 400 products including cosmetics.

Nakada Tomohiko at Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is in charge of the service. He said the company's main target is younger customers in their teens and twenties who will probably be more comfortable in a virtual store.

The company also hopes to attract new customers who live too far from Tokyo to visit the physical store.