Walmart is expanding its use of augmented and virtual reality technology to include eyewear.
The world’s largest retailer’s new offering, announced Tuesday (Jan. 30), comes at a time when consumers are seeking virtual reality (VR) experiences that mirror brick-and-mortar shopping.
Walmart already uses augmented reality (AR) and VR to help its customers get a better, virtual, idea of how beauty, fashion and home items would look in the real world.
Now, Walmart said it plans to expand this offering to help shoppers for eyewear. Starting in February, the company’s Optical Virtual Try-On tool will let customers virtually try on frames and purchase prescription eyewear online through the Walmart app or directly the retailer’s website.
“As a company, our commitment is to provide our customers with a shopping experience that exceeds expectations — one that is easy, engaging and personalized,” Tom Ward, chief eCommerce officer of Walmart U.S., said in a news release.
“With our latest addition, we are offering our customers yet another dimension of choice, meeting them exactly where they are in their shopping journey,” Ward added.
The retailer says it has made several changes to its vision offerings in the last year, including expanding its assortment of frames, and revamping its vision centers, to have 3,000 of the centers nationwide by year’s end.
Walmart acquired the Zeekit dynamic virtual fitting room platform in 2021, and the following year launched Choose My Model, a virtual tool that let people see how clothing looked on models that looked like them.
Later that year, Walmart debuted “Be Your Own Model,” a more advanced and detailed version of that tool.
Other retailers making efforts in this space include footwear and accessories label Manolo Blahnik, which has a virtual room online that spotlights the elements of the shoemaking process and provides insight into Blahnik’s creative voyage.
And in June, apparel retailer J. Crew unveiled its immersive shopping experience in collaboration with the eCommerce platform Obsess, featuring 3D virtual stores that customers can access from their smartphones or laptops.
So while the concept of virtual try-on is not new, Walmart said this latest offering brings the technology to a new level, with 3D data and advanced algorithms that can create a digital twin of eyewear frames, leading to a more realistic virtual try-on experience.
As noted here earlier this week, retailers are seeking ways to combine brick-and-mortar and eCommerce experiences, and many shoppers welcome the idea of bridging that gap with VR.
The PYMNTS Intelligence study “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” found that 31% of consumers want VR to recreate the experience of shopping in the real world.
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