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Dive Brief:

  • Joining other retailers investing more in augmented reality, Walmart announced this week that it will release two new app-based AR tools for at-home and in-store shoppers, according to a blog post by Walmart eCommerce Senior Vice President of Site Experience Brock McKeel and Walmart Global Tech Senior Vice President of New Businesses and Emerging Tech Cheryl Ainoa.
  • The new “view in your space” feature, which will be rolled out to all customers by early July via the iOS app, allows shoppers to view select furniture and decor items in their spaces. This will initially be available for 300 items but Walmart will expand the offering to back-to-college items in the coming months.
  • The other feature – which does not have an anticipated launch date and is still in development – is an in-store AR app feature to personalize product information. Shoppers and employees will be able “to simply point their mobile device camera at our store shelves via the Walmart app to filter our assortment based on your personal preferences,” per the post.

Dive Insight:

Walmart’s latest announcement shows a sense of confidence that its shoppers want more personalized, immersive experiences – at home and in stores.

“We believe the closest store to our customers is in their pocket, and we are focused on making that always-on experience as easy, engaging and personalized as possible,” said McKeel and Ainoa.

The “view in your space” feature uses haptic feedback as well, vibrating the phone when users drag furniture or decor beyond room boundaries. It was also developed with customers with disabilities in mind, per the post, with voice-based instructions for blind or low vision shoppers, and gesture controls for those with limited mobility.

This is not Walmart’s first step into AR technology, and it is focusing its efforts on both customers and store associates. A LinkedIn post from Walmart Global Tech’s Executive Vice President Srini Venkatesan last year discussed the launch of an AR tool “that instantly maps and tracks every box in the backroom for store associates,” allowing employees to avoid lifting each box to read content labels.

Other large retailers have been utilizing similar AR technology as well. Earlier this month, Amazon launched a new AR app feature for shoppers to virtually try on select sneakers. Beauty brand Sally Hansen released an AR nail polish try-on tool in February as part of a partnership between its parent company Coty and the technology organization Perfect Corp. Image sharing company Pinterest also released a home decor and furniture AR feature in February, with items from Walmart, West Elm, Wayfair, Crate and Barrel and more.

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