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Viral Walmart metaverse video was made in 2017 to ‘impress influencers’

Walmart's 2017 AR/VR shopping experience video is resurfacing at a time when the idea of a metaverse is booming

A recent video uploaded to Twitter titled ‘This is how Walmart envisions Shopping in the #Metaverse,’ has been spreading like wildfire. It’s hit nine million views, over 30,000 retweets, and supposedly shows the future of grocery shopping in the metaverse, as Walmart sees it playing out.

If it already wasn’t evident from looking at the graphics in the VR experience, we hate to burst your bubble: that video isn’t new and might have been resurfaced in a bid to boost metaverse stocks or crypto assets, some of which survive almost solely on hype.

The video isn’t connected to Facebook’s vision of the metaverse and, it isn’t even made by Walmart. It was created for the retailer by a program management and design strategy digital agency called Mutual Mobile (MM).

Back in 2017, Walmart wanted “to impress influencers at SXSW (South by Southwest Festival),” and get an edge over the competition by showing off a virtual shopping experience, reads MM’s blog post from almost five years ago. While Walmart’s aim to “impress influencers” might not have worked out back in 2017, the video resurfacing now, in an atmosphere where the Metaverse idea has been freshly reincarnated, surely can, and that is evident from the engagement on the tweeted video.

Five years ago, Walmart had the initial idea ready but needed someone with the technical skills to design the VR experience and lead the way.

MM took it up from there and designed a dystopian grocery store, complete with soft chatter but no other shoppers, a Walmart associate that just wouldn’t leave you alone and constantly shifting walls and surroundings that would nauseate you in real-time.

In short, it’s a video that’ll make you wonder whether we need such technology in the future. Aren’t current online shopping apps enough? If you’re short on time, would you rather pick up your phone, tap on the Walmart app, select what you need and pay for it or would you ready up your VR headset, load up the ‘Walmart grocery store,’ walk around and browse the shelves full of digital food and commodities? While the latter definitely could have a niche audience, I don’t see it ever being the main method going forward. That doesn’t mean that said VR/AR grocery experiences can’t exist and wouldn’t have any use, however.

It’ll be fun to ‘visit’ Walmart while not having to leave your house, but I just don’t see that being the primary way people shop, not at least in the near future, and rather a niche experience for certain occasions.

It’s kind of similar to the digital experience from Inabuggy released earlier last year that allowed shoppers to virtually roam Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market and beat the pandemic blues.

Image credit: Mutual Mobile

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