Can online unboxing videos turn Walmart into ‘America’s Best Toy Shop?’
This article was written jointly by Tom Ryan and Matthew Stern.
Walmart this holiday introduced an online shop, The Walmart Toy Lab, that invites kids to become a “Walmart toy tester” and play with 20 top trending toys from their computer or tablet.
“Like stepping into an interactive unboxing video, The Walmart Toy Lab lets kids take on the role of an official Walmart Toy Tester,” wrote Walmart in a statement.
Unboxing and toy feature videos have shown to be a huge draw for toy-shopping kids. Earlier this year, Walmart partnered with pre-teen YouTube star Ryan of RyansToyReviews, who in 2016 made a whopping $11 million off his unboxing videos.
The Toy Lab rollout comes a few months after Walmart’s announcement that it was branding itself as “America’s Best Toy Shop” with expanded toy aisles and assortments in its stores, an improved toy demoing experience in-store and exclusive toy-related content online.
At the Walmart Toy Lab microsite, an interactive video first introduces the game’s host, Burt, who guides kids through the toy-testing steps. Using a “Funtroller,” kids select toys to test and can choose to take a closer look, try their main features and watch other children play with them. Kids can also click the “Don’t Push” button and see Burt enter a dream sequence, hang upside down or otherwise face an “unexpected surprise.”
After testing, kids add the toy to their digital wish list, the Toy Box, and share with Santa or their parents, or identify the item as “not for me.”
“This was a way for us to make the toy catalog more fun, engaging and interactive — it’s a way to experience what these types of toys are like as [customers] plan purchases,” Walmart spokesperson Tara House, told Digiday. “What will be interesting is what gets the most attention, what [content] the kids are engaging most with, and what ends up on the wish lists.”
The microsite, active until the end of the holiday season, is one of Walmart’s first collaborations with Eko since it formed a joint venture with the developer of interactive video technology in early October. Walmart agreed to participate in Eko’s next funding round.
The partnership, which also may include interactive cooking shows, has a goal of enabling viewers to “participate in and shape stories as they are being told.” Said Yoni Bloch, Eko’s CEO, in a statement announcing the venture, “Our mission is to evolve past basic personalization and partnering with Walmart will accelerate that evolution.”
- Walmart Toy Lab
- Kids Invited to Step Inside “Walmart Toy Lab” This Holiday Season, a Digital Playground to Test and Play with Top Toy – Walmart
- It’s the BESTEST Announcement of the Year! Walmart Unboxes America’s BEST Toy Shop and 2018 Top Rated by Kids! – Walmart
- Walmart rolls out a virtual ‘toy lab’ to demo new holiday toy product lineup – Digiday
- Six-year-old YouTuber is the face of Walmart’s new toy line – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do interactive video experiences such as Walmart Toy Lab have the potential to support a wide range of categories online or is the technology likely only suitable for a narrow range, such as toys? Does the technology have a place at the store level as well?