Walmart’s Store No. 8 incubator has announced the launch of its second portfolio company, Spatial&. It will focus on the opportunities to create new virtual commerce (V-commerce) experiences.
Focused on the opportunities within innovative technologies
Store No. 8 was established in 2017 to assess the opportunities for innovative technologies such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles within the retail environment. It partners with venture capitalists and academics to help setup and support start-up organisations to develop solutions for Walmart. Last year it launched Jetblack as its first portfolio company.
Acquired Spatialand 12 months ago
VR has been a major focus for Store No.8. In 2017 it held a VR gala, Innov8, to showcase five VR developers focused on solving different problems in the V-commerce space, supported by VR platform and content studio, Spatialand. Last February, Store No.8 acquired Spatialand, forming the basis of this new portfolio company.
Opportunities for brands and story-telling
Spatial& will focus on pushing the boundaries of what's possible in VR and retail today and defining the V-commerce platform of tomorrow. Store No.8 expects V-commerce will be an essential role of how brands go to market and share the stories behind their products. This month Spatial& is collaborating with DreamWorks Animation to present a virtual reality activation to support the launch of the new movie, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. As part of a virtual tour experience in selected Walmart stores, How to Train Your Dragon merchandise will be available for purchase in a branded, immersive gift shop.
Creating more immersive retail experiences
The launch of Spatial& highlights the growing role of VR within the retail environment as retailers look to create more immersive experiences. Some of the uses of the technology showcased by Store No.8 at Innov8 included photorealistic holograms, interactive virtual stores and educational V-commerce platforms. Beyond shopper-focused solutions, Walmart has also been using VR technology within its training academies to recreate in-store situations.
Shaping the future of retail
Store No.8 demonstrates how Walmart is looking at the opportunities for the business over the longer term. While it is currently aggressively developing its ecommerce business and reinventing its store formats to ensure their future relevance, these initiatives are focused on bridging the gap between its legacy store business and the next three to five years. The types of technologies which will be developed within Store No. 8 will be foundational to a much bolder change in how the retailer operates and goes to market.
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