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Walmart Shows Off VR Investments with 3D Virtual Home Experience

Walmart’s been splashing out on major tech investments like its February acquisition of virtual reality startup Spatialand, and now it’s launching a virtual shopping experience aimed at helping shoppers design their homes.

Walmart said shoppers visiting its website will be able to take a virtual tour of an apartment designed with a curated selection, including a mix of national and private-label brands, of almost 70 home and décor items highlighted throughout the rooms with a yellow dot. Hovering over each dot reveals the product name and a click-to-buy link that directs customers out of the experience and to a product results page that displays similar items.

Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president and group general manager, home, U.S. e-commerce, said in a statement that the virtual experience aims to make Walmart’s home products more “discoverable.”

This focus on discovery and discoverability is driving many of today’s retail investments, as e-commerce looks to provide richer experiences and fuel inspiration that could propel some shoppers into stores. On the other hand, visualizing products already situated in a home context could assure some customers that the product works for their specific rooms and needs.

Earlier this year, Amazon debuted an augmented reality experience in its mobile app in which shoppers can picture furnishings and other large items in their homes.

Acknowledging that many shop during the summer for their college dorms or new apartments, starting in July Walmart will enable customers to buy complete room looks. The company will offer five “curated” collections with names and themes like “Global,” “Boho Wanderer,” and “Americana” and featuring up to 20 items—from bedding to desks to storage totes and more.

Walmart said the “buy the look” effort might be starting with a targeted, college-age audience, but it plans to expand the offering going forward. Shoppers looking for coastal style for a beach home, for example, would likely also shop the same way for groups of similarly themed items, Walmart said.