Forget online shopping being a blow to retailers, virtual reality is the latest technology to sweep the industry.

One of the largest online marketplace companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has planned to launch a demonstration virtual reality store which could be rolled out by the end of the year. Shoppers wearing the virtual reality helmet can walk around a digital store and rotate any item around as if they were picking it up in reality. Robotic shop assistants are on hand to inform the shopper about the product and then they can click the ‘buy’ button to make a purchase. Virtual reality headgear will need to be provided by the customer, however.

“Integrating virtual reality to e-commerce is in its nascent stages,” said Sharon Chan, a spokeswoman at Alibaba. “It’s not just VR, but integrating cutting edge technology while reinventing the shopping experience.”