Walmart made a bet on virtual reality shopping with the acquisition of VR storefront Spatialand that was confirmed on Tuesday. The startup was previously involved with Walmart's incubator program Store No. 8 and is now set to be integrated into that division of Walmart, with around a dozen of its employees together with co-founder Kimberly Cooper joining the retail giant. Store No. 8 Principal Katie Finnegan is having her responsibilities expanded following the deal, having been appointed as interim Chief Executive Officer of the combined unit. Ms. Cooper — a two-time Emmy nominee — is taking the role of Chief Creative Officer at the division and will continue collaborating with Ms. Finnegan and the rest of the team on trying to disrupt the retail industry.
Founded in early 2017, Spatialand specializes in tools for creating VR stores and has been pitching its software offerings to retailers as the future of shopping. Ms. Finnegan welcomed the latest development and said the team will continue working on retail applications of VR, reflecting on the rest of the industry that's still largely limited to gaming and entertainment in general. No details on Spatialand's immediate plans have been revealed and it's currently unclear whether the startup will even keep its name going forward. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed but with no known funding rounds to date, Spatialand was likely sold for no more than a low seven-digit figure. Walmart itself is still heavily involved in experimenting with a broad range of futuristic retail solutions as it continues to wage war against Amazon.
Following the rollout out of Google Assistant and Google Express support for Walmart's e-commerce platform last summer, the firm reportedly set its sights on augmented reality, with insiders claiming Store No. 8 was looking to emulate the Amazon Go platform with a secretive "Project Kepler" whose specifics remain unknown. In the more immediate and technologically feasible future, the company is expected to continue expanding the availability of its Scan & Go service. While Walmart is far from the only firm exploring VR's implications for retail, the industry has yet to yield any viable solutions in the segment that's still becoming increasingly reliant on traditional online shopping platforms.