Walmart keeps taking giant steps toward the digital elite.
The retail monster recently announced a new 3-D shopping experience. It also hired Valerie Casey as head of design — the first time it’s ever added a design executive at the officer level.
Other retailers are also using 3-D and augmented reality to sell home furnishings, including Ikea, Wayfair and Macy’s.
Walmart — which is aiming the new shopping tools primarily at back-to-college shoppers, emphasizes affordability as well as shopper discovery — and says it expects to expand the test to larger audiences.
The pilot includes two experiences, both geared toward back-to-school. A 3D virtual shopping tour takes shoppers through an apartment filled with 70 clickable branded and private label items. A “buy the room” capability lets shoppers choose from five curated collections, with up to 20 of the items college students buy most often.
“While we are launching these new features for dorm rooms and small-space living, we know that they could have applications elsewhere, and will continue to listen to customer feedback to determine how to implement them more broadly on the site,” writes Anthony Soohoo, SVP and group general manager for home products at its e-commerce division, in a blog post announcing the experiments. “We also continue to build our assortment of great merchandise for all home shoppers.”
The addition of Casey to the Walmart team is perhaps an even stronger indication of how seriously the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is taking its commitment to digital retailing.
“For me, the most interesting part of this role is bridging stores and digital, designing new experiences and services,” Casey told Fast Company’sCo.Design. “This is new territory–actually having a perfectly seamless experience as a user, beginning online or an app, through mobile or ambient computing for voice, and having a continuous experience all through the store and delivery. This is a designer’s nirvana.”
Casey is charged with pulling together Walmart’s complex universe of apps and websites into one seamless experience, according to the report.
Casey, who has held design positions at Samsung, Frog, and Ideo, founded the Designers Accord, a global coalition of creatives working together to create social impact, especially in sustainability. She is also the executive director of the group, which has drawn more than half a million people from 100 countries to its projects and events.
The company recently redesigned its website, including a microsite for its partnership with Lord & Taylor.