Walmart has been rolling out new digital initiatives and buying e-commerce sites, but now the retailer has set its sights on virtual reality.
This summer, the company invited technology firms to submit "V-commerce" ideas. Five winning applicants then spent about two months at Walmart’s technology incubator, called Store No 8, coming up with shopping applications for virtual reality.
The winning ideas included:
- 8i X Bonobos - Showcased volumetric video technology for customers to experience photorealistic holograms of real people. The platform enables interaction with a Bonobos Guide to select virtual shirts from a rack and understand fit on a hologram of a real model. The experience allows consumers to view how the fabric moves and get a sense of sizing, allowing for more realistic shopping previews and reviews, benefiting both customer and retailer.
- Fyusion X ModCloth - Showcased technology to create photorealistic 3D images using only a smartphone. This technology democratizes the scan and capture experience allowing content to be created by anyone with any camera, with content viewable on any hardware. Capturing images in 3D allows deeper super powers than static images or videos allow, from automatic data tagging and background image effects to visual search. This technology allows consumers to experience the realistic feel of an item before they purchase without having to physically go in-store and provides retailers the opportunity to create interactive imaging at scale.
- Obsess X Rebecca Minkoff - Showcased a virtual store with Rebecca Minkoff, digitally generated with beautiful photorealistic quality. The platform offers the ability to create interactive virtual store environments that are customized to reflect the brand's identity, unlike the flat e-commerce experiences of today. The experience demonstrates the potential of virtual stores to extend beyond the capabilities of physical retail stores, such as allowing consumers to experience a fashion show as if they were there and shop the runway.
- Nurulize - Showcased Atom View technology which enables products or environments to be imported, edited and streamed into a VR volumetric space from any captured or created data source. Nurulize’s Nu Design VR software application demonstrated social interaction where two or more people explored virtual items with unprecedented detail and interaction. For the first time, consumers can experience virtual shopping with others, creating a true social VR shopping and sharing experience.
- Specular Theory - Showcased FAB (Families And Babies), the first safety tool and educational v-commerce platform using the power of VR, AR and AI to build trusted relationships between consumers, products and retailers. FAB has the unique ability to identify child safety hazards and provide product recommendations based on a family’s specific needs such as child age, to be virtually tested before purchase, making it easier for parents to shop with safety top of mind. Leveraging immersive technology, FAB is bringing education and commerce together to solve real problems, giving consumers an easier and smarter way to shop for their family and home.
“Innov8 is our opportunity to support and elevate the incredible pioneers of virtual reality who share our mission to explore nascent innovations that will emerge not in coming years but over the next decade,” said Katie Finnegan, Principal of Store No 8. “During this process, our five Innov8ers have uncovered radical new technologies, approaches and applications across the virtual retail experience, that we know will play a major role in driving commerce forward at a time when technology influences all aspects of consumers’ lives.”
Walmart has been experimenting with virtual reality to make shopping even easier for its customers. It is also testing a program that would allow delivery drivers to walk into customers’ homes and deliver groceries straight to their refrigerators.
“Virtual reality is rapidly transforming the way companies connect and engage with their customers and employees,” said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director of Accenture Labs and head of Accenture Extended Reality. “Accenture is committed to investing in and developing this powerful technology given the tremendous potential we believe it has to drive new innovations and deliver real business value.” As a strategic initiative of Accenture, the Accenture Extended Reality group helps companies envision, create and deliver impactful new immersive experiences that fuel new business growth by improving connections with customers, optimizing productivity and performance of employees and creating and monetizing new digital products and services.