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Online shopping is quick and convenient. But particularly when it comes to fresh food, it is important to be able to touch, see and smell it. A visit in the virtual reality.

I am putting on my VR specs and a pair of gloves: all ready for my virtual visit at the wholesale market. A quick nod, a soft ringing sounds and in rapid speed I can see the image in front of my eyes. I am really there now, standing amidst the tall shelve rows. Above my head hundreds of drones zoom about, collecting the shopping orders- a barely perceptible humming is in the air. "Show me my last order", I say and promptly receive the summary of Friday's order. All ok. This not what it is about today though, that is not why I am here. I need fresh fish, dorado (oder "mahi mahi", "dolphinfish"). "Take me to the fish counter". The ringing sounds again in my ear, and I find myself directly in front of the display of fresh fish stored on ice. Did it suddenly get a bit colder? Over there stands Maxine, she has been advising me since I became a customer at the wholesale market. She is talking to an older gentleman, another customer. Gilberto from the trattoria in the Südstadt district. I say hello, and make a gesture with my hand in order to move towards them. Maxine smiles and indicates that she will with me shortly.

In the mean time I am examining the fish on display. The plaice looks good. I am blinking twice in order to receive more information. Wild-caught from the North Sea, just arrived. With my eyes I am focusing the fish, a white ring appears which is filling up bit by bit. I am tilting the head gently upwards twice and the produce lands in my shopping basket. A shop assistant behind the counter wraps the plaice and prepares it for delivery by drone. Then I hear Maxine's voice: "How can I help you today?"

Virtual wholesale market: pros or cons?

Science fiction or a realistic scenario for the future? What do customers think of a virtual wholesale market? Does the possibility of a completely digitalised shopping present amazing progress, useful addition or is it an unnecessary development? A discussion between Stephanie Wicke, owner and chef of "Zur Sennhütte", a restaurant in Düsseldorf, and Marco Vieten, owner of the "Café Aroma" in Meerbusch.