Walmart’s Plans to Join the Metaverse

Joel Eisenberg

An unauthorized 2017 proof of concept was recently unearthed for a proposed virtual Walmart experience, although the chain has since officially announced its related intentions.

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2017 Walmart MetaverseMutual Mobile, promotional for media use

Author’s Note

This article is free of bias, and is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Twitter.com, Facebook.com, The Diplomat.com, PaperMag.com, and CNBC.com.

Introduction

Since Mark Zuckerberg announced his plans for a digital metaverse, Facebook’s rebranding as Meta has become not only an early step of that evolution, but praised and ridiculed in diverse quarters. See here for my previous NewsBreak article on the matter, “Facebook (Meta) vs. Twitter: A Comparison of Revenue and Brand Loyalty,” which explains not only the former Facebook’s recent transition into Meta, but also global reaction to it.

In the article was a link to the following tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who bluntly slammed the effort:

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Jack Dorsey tweetTwitter, Inc.

Conversely, South Korea is all-in on the metaverse concept. See here for Sang Kim article from TheDiplomat.com, “South Korea’s Approach to the Metaverse: South Korea’s Government is Encouraging Public-Private Partnerships to Advance the Technology.”

As with cryptocurrency and NFTs, technologies emerging from the gaming industry is credited as partially responsible for the evolving look of the metaverse. From Kim’s article: The metaverse started as a popular concept in sci-fi novels and movies. The term was coined by Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel “Snow Crash” then later used in Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One.” But with the development of more advanced technology and the pandemic limiting in-person interactions, the application of the metaverse has been accelerated and more commercialized in the past few years. South Korea is an emerging key player in the metaverse, spring boarding from its strong gaming industry and popular culture content that attracts global fans.

It looks like the metaverse is here to stay, due in part to the former Facebook’s evolution — which is poised to make the world accessible to a larger group than any other company — and also in part to naturally advancing tech.

Where, then, does this leave Walmart, the venerable retail giant?

Let us explore.

Updated Walmart Plans

A January, 2022 Matt Moen article from PaperMag.com stated the following: A proof of concept video presented in 2017 at SXSW recently resurfaced, imagining what shopping at Walmart in virtual reality would look like. Created by Mutual Mobile, the VR experience imagines what the future of shopping at Walmart might look like with users navigating a virtual supermarket, grabbing products off digital shelves that instantly show things like nutrition facts, price comparisons or recipe recommendations, and having their order shipped off to them via drone.

The video is linked in the article.

Since the Mutual Mobile video resurfaced, Walmart announced their official plans for a new shopping experience that would indeed take place in what we now know as the metaverse. See here for a January, 2022 article from CNBC, written by Lauren Thomas and titled “Walmart is Quietly Preparing to Enter the Metaverse.”

From the article: Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, Walmart said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as NFTs.

Fast-moving technology will serve to further advance the chain’s progression.

Conclusion

What started as an unsolicited proposal to determine Walmart’s new look within the ever-evolving metaverse has become reality… to a point.

The future of Walmart’s shopping experience will nonetheless likely continue to evolve in proportion to emerging technologies, as science fiction yet again becomes science fact.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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