Developers submit their ideas for bringing VR into the shopping experience.
If you’re anything like me, you consider conventional shopping to be a grueling task right up there with visiting the DMV or jury duty. Okay, maybe not as bad as the DMV… but it’s still a mundane process.
So why not revitalize the experience by implementing the immersive and engaging technology of virtual reality? Well that’s exactly what Walmart & Arianna Huffington are attempting with Innov8, a brand new competition dedicated to exploring and investing in immersive concepts capable of changing a customer’s retail experience.
Spearheaded by Walmart’s technology innovation center and incubator Store No 8 and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, in collaboration with Accenture as a strategic innovation advisor, the first-of-its-kind competition extended a nationwide invitation to early-stage developers to submit unique concepts that use VR to make shopping more relaxing, efficient and engaging.
Participants had just three weeks to submit their ideas and now the selected finalists will be invited to an exclusive exhibition in Los Angeles on October 18. There, the chosen groups will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with major brands and influencers as well as present their concepts in an formal environment.
Judges include Huffington, Marc Lore of Walmart Ecommerce U.S., Kristen Green of Forerunner Ventures, and Tipatat Chennavasin of The Venture Reality Fund.
“Virtual reality creates a presence, a mindfulness, that nothing else today can,” said Katie Finnegan, Principal of Store No 8, in a statement. “We are looking to leverage virtual reality to drastically enhance the way people shop. Our first step is to identify the most innovative companies and minds in the space to help us on this mission. Innov8 will further define the future of commerce by inspiring and driving growth in the underlying ecosystem of technologies needed to bring shopping into the era of virtual experiences.”
The final winners will receive capital to help fund their idea as well as advice during the incubation period. Selected developers will also have the opportunity to work directly with major names such as Walmart, Jet.com, Thrive Global and other influential retailers.
“Right now, we’re in the middle of a cultural shift away from burnout and based on the connection between well-being and performance,” said Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global & The Huffington Post. “The companies that will win the hearts and minds of consumers are those that shape our daily lives by making everyday experiences, like shopping, easier and less stressful. Innov8 will focus the industry’s brightest minds and talent toward the development of virtual experiences that change the way we live for the better.”
It’s heartening to see large corporations accept and embrace potentially game-changing technology as opposed to feverishly resisting it. As one of the world’s largest physical retailers, Walmart is setting the stage for a new era of modern shopping with this unique, potentially groundbreaking competition. And with partners such as Arianna Huffington and Accenture in their corner you can expect only big things on the horizon.
This isn’t the first time Walmart has experimented with immersive technology, having introduced VR into employee training programs at many of their Walmart Academies
We’ve seen other large names approach virtual and augmented reality in their own unique ways, from Lowe’s VR clinic for DIY home improvement, to Amazon’s AR furniture stores. Hopefully this is just the start of a new wave of technology-based smart shopping. Now if they could just somehow make shopping for jeans a less grueling task…