Earlier this week, news broke that Walmart bought Spatialand, a virtual reality design company, to add to its portfolio company Store No 8. Store No 8 describes itself as "an innovation hub" that tests new ideas to improve the retail industry. While not even a year old, Store No 8 has moved fast to snap up technology initiatives. For example, it's working on developing cashier-less stores and the ability to order products via text. Now that Spatialand has been added, it's clear that Wal-Mart wants to experiment with using VR to heighten the shopping experience. But how would that help?
One excellent possibility comes from Spatialand's founder herself, Kimberly Cooper. Cooper's done work on titles like Iron Man, Rogue One, Metal Gear Solid, and Destiny, so she's got some impressive work under her belt. She points out that VR could bolster product design, boosting "creative freedom" and hailing the kind of benefits that immersive tech could bring to sectors beyond retail.
On the other side of retail, supply chains may also benefit from the enhanced technology. Bill Bishop, a member of retail consulting firm Brick Meets Click, says that VR could make inventory tracking a lot easier. After all, if you only have "to move them around with a mouse and not have the store labor do it", it could help reduce human error and make things much easier to track and handle.
Of course these are only two examples, but the team seems very excited to start finding even more. Katie Finnegan, the principal of Store No 8 and now interim CEO of Spatialand, stated that "The team will develop and explore new products and uses of VR through immersive retail environments that can be incorporated by all facets of Walmart, online and offline."
It's too early to tell how far virtual reality may end up changing the experience at Wal-Mart. It may offer added convenience to both the consumer and supplier; it may end up revolutionizing the system as much as the barcode. There's some real talent behind Wal-Mart's intitiative though, and it'll be exciting to see what ends up coming of it.