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Walmart Exec Details Immersive Experiences in Digital ‘Realm’

Consumers increasingly want immersive eCommerce journeys, and Walmart is launching new digital shopping experiences to meet this demand.

In an interview with PYMNTS following the retailer’s launch of gamified marketplace Walmart Realm, Justin Breton, the company’s director of brand experiences and strategic partnerships, discussed this demand for more engaging online buying options.

“Steeped in data, we followed these three trends: customers enjoy brands they shop with more when they have unique virtual experiences; customers want to be entertained while shopping; [and] customers enjoy and are inspired by virtual games where they can immediately purchase items they discover,” Breton said.

A share of shoppers is voicing demand for more immersive purchasing experiences. For instance, PYMNTS Intelligence’s “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” found that among most consumers who own connected devices, 1 in 3 would be interested in using them to buy items that appear in streamed content while they watch. Plus, 28% would want to be able to make purchases based on products that show up within friends’ social media posts.

Last month, Walmart introduced a store in the Roblox virtual world, allowing consumers to purchase virtual items and receive the corresponding real products shipped to their homes. Breton noted that this move is part of the retailer’s push to create shopping journeys that “intersect both the physical and virtual retail worlds.”

The same How We Will Pay report revealed that when playing video games, 26% of connected device owners would want to have the chance to buy a real product that is automatically shipped to their home and charged to their account on file. Plus, 5% already do this.

“We know Gen Z and Gen Alpha are interested in unique virtual experiences that lend themselves to authentic discovery of new products,” Breton noted.

Staying Ahead of the Social Curve

For these generations, social media also plays a role in making shopping decisions.

Supplemental research from the PYMNTS Intelligence report “Tracking the Digital Payments Takeover: Monetizing Social Media” revealed that 68% of Generation Z consumers looked for products on social media, with 22% completing a purchase, marking the highest social media shopping rate among all generations. Furthermore, three-quarters of Gen Z consumers expressed plans to buy through social media, in contrast to less than half of the entire sample.

Retailers diving into the realm of social commerce must deftly navigate the fast-paced currents of social media trends to stay competitive. Unlike traditional eCommerce, where consumer behaviors can be somewhat predictable, social commerce thrives on the ever-changing dynamics of online engagement. A new social media trend can instantaneously shift consumer interest, presenting both opportunities and challenges.

“Our biggest challenge is staying ahead of social trends and anticipating where our customers and future customers will want to be and how we can interact,” Breton said. “Walmart has been an early pioneer in social and emerging commerce, and it’s an area we’re continuing to focus on as customer behavior and the social landscape evolves.”

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