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Reimagining retail with virtual reality

Walmart was set up in 1962 as a small discount retailer in Arkansas. Cut to 2022, Walmart has 10,500 stores across 24 countries and is well-known as one of the stalwarts of the retail industry. Since its inception, Walmart has been at the forefront of innovation in retail, which it continues to focus on with forays into e-commerce, supply chain, and emerging technology.


Project introduction

To display innovation in retail technology, Walmart envisioned unveiling a fully virtual shopping experience that put shoppers inside the store, without ever leaving their homes. This ambitious project needed an experienced team to lead the way. But beyond the technical skills necessary to assemble this intense VR experience, it also required a clear vision and a drive to create something new and impactful. 

Hence, Walmart approached Mutual Mobile to build a virtual reality experience to display at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2017.


Reimagining retail in a short period

The challenges for us involved designing the fully-immersive virtual reality experience within a 3-month hard deadline keeping the SXSW 2017 in mind. At the same time, displaying Walmart’s vision for the future of retail shopping in a 3.5-minute immersive experience.

This would help dispel the illusion that Walmart wasn't as digitally advanced as its counterparts.


A collaborative experience

Walmart’s goal here wasn’t just to create something interactive. Instead, they needed to pull off something that showed the potential of VR in retail.

To transform this vision into reality, Walmart and Mutual Mobile worked together from the ground up—designing the environment, scripting the dialogue, refining the interactive elements, and ensuring the whole experience felt fresh and engaging. This transformation involved three key elements, which included:

  • Designing an immersive VR simulation that gave users an idea of a smart shopping experience.
  • Incorporating Oculus Touch, which would allow users to select items on their shopping list, view product details, sales/deal information, etc. 
  • Giving users a glimpse of how tech-powered shopping can handle common shopping annoyances like out-of-stock items, heavy items, and checkout.
"We had a couple of other companies that we bid this work out to as well. What Shane and the team put together was head and shoulders above the other two. Just really well thought-out about what the experience would be like." - Jason Norris, Emerging Technologies, Walmart.


Delighting and inspiring employees and viewers alike

This was one of the most exciting projects that we worked on in recent years, and it included several key milestones, which included:

Rousing internal shareholders and employees

Walmart’s Emerging Technology team demonstrated this experience to employees and stakeholders, which made them see Walmart’s potential as a leader in the retail technology space.

Showcasing the VR concept at South by Southwest 2017

Walmart also decided to showcase the VR concept at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2017, where the demo impressed both influencers, viewers, and consumers. 

Gaining virality in 2022

The Walmart VR demo video went viral in 2022 when people assumed shopping would look like that in the metaverse while accumulating 11.7 million views.

VR experiences that shape the future

Designing immersive experiences with emerging technologies is one of the things that we do well. If you have any such requirements and wish to elevate your business, we are your dream team. You can reach out to us over here.