KT, South Korea’s second-largest mobile operator, outlined plans to deliver a new range of services based on augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) technologies, beginning with a mobile shopping service.

AR Market gives shoppers a 360-degree view of products on their smartphones, mimicking the experience of being in a physical store. In a statement, Koh Yoon-Jeon, head of KT’s Future Business Development unit, said the service is the first step in a broader AR and VR strategy which will ultimately see the operator offer services covering education, health and industrial sectors.

“AR is a technology with a great potential that can be applied to various areas of service,” the executive said, adding KT aims to establish a leading position “in immersive media services” using AR and VR.

KT trialled AR Market at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in February. Its TV-based commerce unit launched commercial service in July through K Shopping’s mobile app by offering special product promotions.

The operator said it plans to continue developing immersive shopping services since taking steps to accelerate the business late in 2017. It launched two VRIGHT VR theme parks in Seoul this year in partnership with GS Retail, a major convenience store chain operator in South Korea. KT also plans to franchise its VR entertainment business in 2019 both at home and overseas.

Hybrid platform
KT isn’t the only operator aiming to create a platform combining e-commerce and traditional shopping to give users 3D product views.

Reliance Industries, parent of India-based mobile operator Reliance Jio, announced plans in early July to develop immersive shopping experiences using AR and holographic technologies.

At the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, chairman Mukesh Ambani outlined his vision to create a hybrid, online-to-offline commerce platform by integrating Reliance Retail’s physical stores with Jio’s digital marketplace.

Many retailers are also moving quickly to deploy virtual interactive showrooms using AR and VR.