Walmart’s new AR tech is built for the stores inside customers’ pockets

Source: Walmart
Jun 24, 2022

Walmart yesterday introduced two new augmented reality features designed to improve customers’ experience, whether they are shopping from home or in the retailer’s stores.

The first feature, which is scheduled to roll out early next month on Walmart’s iOS app with Android and mobile web versions to come, will allow shoppers to view furniture and home décor items in spaces within their homes. The retailer will initially make 300 products available for viewing and plans to expand the selection to back-to-college items in the months to come.

Walmart said that the “view in your space” AR feature was extensively tested with customers before the decision was made to make it widely available. The feedback was “overwhelmingly positive, according to a blog post by Brock McKeel senior site experience, Walmart eCommerce, and Cherly Ainoa, senior vice president, new businesses & emerging tech, Walmart Global Tech.

The chain’s customers are able to access the feature by clicking on “View in your space” banners on items in the Walmart app. They will then be walked through how to connect the camera and view the item they are interested in seeing their home environment. The feature’s functions enable customers to “toggle the item dimensions to check if the item will fit in their space and snap a picture for later.”

The “View in your space” feature also includes haptic feedback that emits vibrations as the user moves items around, preventing them from placing items past the boundaries of their rooms.

Walmart’s second AR feature is currently in development. When it is eventually ready for prime time, it will allow associates and customers to point their phone cameras at store shelves and get products based on personal preferences.

The blog’s authors used the example of people shopping for gluten-free products. They will, in the future, be able to get product information to determine if an item fits within their nutritional requirements. Customers may also be able to scan shelves and find rollback prices on specific items or instantly get coupons for additional savings.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is augmented reality technology becoming a must-have for retailers selling furniture and home décor? What do you see as the most compelling use cases for AR inside of stores?

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"AR shopping tools should be table stakes for furniture and home decor stores and custom home builders."

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11 Comments on "Walmart’s new AR tech is built for the stores inside customers’ pockets"

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Dion Kenney
11 months 15 days ago

I hope that I am wrong, but this seems like the wrong tool for the wrong audience. There are a lot of ways to use technology to enhance the shopper’s experience, but I’m not sure that the biggest issue for Walmart shoppers is trying to visualize furniture in their home.

Gene Detroyer

If anything, I see AR coming faster than I initially imagined. While the technology has been used minimally in some spaces, with Walmart stepping in, it will cause others to look at this more seriously. And with each adoption by a major retailer, the technology will take a step forward.

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that we were discussing how using QR codes would provide a shopper with information on grocery products. AR takes it another leap forward. Imagine walking up and down an aisle and simply scanning the shelves — convenience, time, and information at hand. Shoppers will think about their shopping trips differently and not only use the tech but demand more.

Lisa Goller

Consumers now expect AR tools for greater certainty and fewer hassles when buying bulky, big-ticket home items. We’re more likely to buy home goods if we trust they will fit the space and delight us.

AR can elevate in-store experiences by filtering products according to personalized tastes for ease and time savings. Cross-category data on natural, sustainable or hypoallergenic items can guide shoppers across the store to satisfy their needs.

Both online and in-store, AR drives sales.

Brad Halverson

Removing barriers. Putting the customer first. Thinking of them.

David Naumann

We just moved into a new house and the furniture stores my wife visited did not have this feature so she took photos of our house and existing furniture to the stores to compare them physically. An AR app would have made the shopping experience easier and fun. AR shopping tools should be table stakes for furniture and home decor stores and custom home builders.

Gary Sankary

This technology is becoming table stakes for home decor categories, especially more durable, larger goods. I firmly believe that when retailers are considering investments in customer-facing technology, they have to consider: 1.) Does it enable them to extend their brand experience and engage customers? 2.) Does the added friction in the shopping experience have value? In this case, customers seem to like it, and I think it does check both of these boxes – it adds value and promotes engagement. Kudos to Walmart for bringing this to the mainstream.

DeAnn Campbell

I’m a big fan of AR tools for use in furniture and appliance shopping. Amazon has offered one for almost a decade now that was surprisingly robust at the time it was created. The biggest challenge with furniture buying is the difficulty the average consumer has visualizing scale and how a piece of furniture will look in their home next to their existing furnishings. AR is the perfect tool to solve for this. On the other hand, with products like apparel, footwear and beauty, AR can help shoppers get a sense of what a product will look like in context, but cannot help with the most important need – to understand what it will feel like or how it will fit.

Cathy Hotka

David is right — AR is table stakes for furniture and home decor stores. Those who have not yet implemented it should get out ahead and adopt it ASAP. Retail technology is moving more quickly than ever.

Brian Delp
11 months 15 days ago

Absolutely. Not only does this give the consumer confidence that what they are buying will work in their space, it also helps to minimize returns which are a significant issue. Home decor items are larger and bulkier, so this is an especially effective tool.

Jeff Weidauer

The second feature is the most interesting. Once this is real, it will become a necessity for every retailer to have one.

Brad Halverson

Shopping for furniture is a process. And it’s painful to return items once you’ve unboxed at home. If AR on mobile devices helps customers remove doubt, or even inspire them visually, this is a good tool.

The other tech feature to point the camera at shelves to find deals, coupons and information while shopping is maybe even more valuable. Shelf signs, websites and emails can only do so much. This is customer-centricity at its best if executed well.

"AR shopping tools should be table stakes for furniture and home decor stores and custom home builders."

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