Walmart Metaverse experience: an immersive e-commerce and the collaboration with Unity

6 January 2024

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Walmart Inc. is using metaverse since a couple of years, bringing different perspectives and using new tools. “As we began to craft this experience, we listened to our growing community on the platform and found that they were seeking easier ways to discover experiences and virtual items,” Walmart Chief Marketing Officer William White said after the release of a collaboration with Roblox in September 2023.

Walmart, which initially debuted in the metaverse by launching two new metaverse experience on the popular Roblox immersive gaming platform in September 2022, announced in September 2023 that it would deepen its commercial activity in “virtual worlds.” 

Over the past year, Walmart has tested immersive commerce in a variety of online worlds. Three of these experiences were made with Unity and integrate Walmart commerce APIs:

  • House Flip, a sort of mobile game, which allows them to renovate, decorate and sell virtual homes, can purchase the real-life counterparts of items they use in the game. 
  • Avakin Life, with it Walmart gave players the ability to purchase virtual twins of their latest apparel or receive the virtual item free with the purchase of the physical item. Walmart also released its first virtual clothing line, CoreMood Collective, into this virtual world.
  • Zepeto, this is a 3D avatar-based social platform by contextually integrating them into social spaces in Zepeto. Walmart and Zepeto are currently working on integrating immersive commerce capabilities into select spaces on the platform for future brand integrations.

According to Unity, more than 1.1 million developers use the Unity editor monthly, supporting an average of 3.6 billion downloads each month of Unity-developed apps worldwide.

"We have an opportunity to connect the physical and digital realms in a way that only Walmart can, meeting our customers and members with authentic experiences where they already are," said to VentureBeat Tom Kang, VP and GM, metaverse commerce, Walmart's Store No. 8 tech incubator. "By opening up Walmart’s commerce APIs to the Unity development community, we’re empowering developers to offer a new mechanism to further drive user engagement while making it easy and convenient for players to complete a transaction for physical products without leaving the game, virtual world or app."

The collaboration with Unity

The company is now partnering with a platform for developing real-time 3D content to offer immersive shopping opportunities. Walmart and Unity have partnered to integrated immersive commerce into games and apps. With it, players can buy Walmart physical goods from directly within games. The discount giant will provide developers in the Unity real-time 3D development environment the ability to integrate its commerce application programming interfaces (APIs) directly into their games and apps. This will enable Unity creators to sell physical items in real-time 3D experiences across more than 20 metaverse platforms. This enables creators to sell physical items in real-time 3D experiences across more than 20 gaming and interactive platforms, unlocking a new way for developers and creators to connect customers’ virtual and physical lifestyles and establishing a new monetization channel for developers.

It’s a collaboration that enables the world’s biggest retailer to make headway in digital commerce in collaboration with game engine maker Unity, which has more than 1.1 million developers using its Unity editor each month.

The integration means that Unity developers can use Walmart’s commerce application programming interfaces (APIs) and enable players to make purchases inside games, buying Walmart merchandise that they can then pick up in a store, said Tom Kang, vice president and general manager of metaverse commerce for Walmart.

Walmart's philosophy

Walmart sees the growth and expansion of virtual worlds as not only a chance to develop new ways to meet and engage with its customers, but also an opportunity to experiment with a new type of commerce — virtual commerce — one where customers can not only continue buying virtual goods, like clothing for their avatar, but now their real-world counterpart.

“It is really about meeting customers where they’re spending a lot a lot of their time,” said Kang - VP and Officer at Walmart. “I don’t have to tell you there are over 3 billion people playing games, and they’re doing digital commerce. They’ve been buying digital goods in those spaces for years and years. Walmart, as a commerce company with over 11,000 physical locations, believes it’s an opportunity to invent a new type of experience for our customers that evolves the physical to digital, with ecommerce to social and now immersive — we’re calling it immersive commerce, which is the virtual worlds, games and apps and connecting the physical and virtual lives.” It’s part of a strategy of making the metaverse for everyone, or immersive commerce for everyone.

SOURCES: Venture Beat, Chain Storage Age

Read also: Metaverse: how many inhabitants?

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