Walmart has disclosed that it is acquiring Spatialand, a virtual reality startup, as the big box retailer increases its investments in VR, a field which is expected to change the shopping experience in the near future. The startup develops software tools which allow creators to transform content that already exists into immersive VR experiences.
This is not the first time Walmart is making contact with Spatialand. Last year the startup collaborated in a project with the technology incubator of the big box retailer, Store No. 8. Following the acquisition the founder of Spatialand, Kim Cooper, plus around ten employees will be absorbed by Walmart. The current head of Store No. 8, Katie Finnegan, will serve as the chief executive officer of Spatialand in the interim.
Walmart’s acquisition of Spatialand comes in the wake of augmented reality gaining increased popularity as the technology that is most likely to transform online shopping. This is expected to happen at the expense of virtual reality. Finnegan however said that the startup is focusing on retail experiences which are ahead of their time by between five and ten years. The interim CEO of Spatialand however did not offer details on products that the startup is working on. According to Finnegan, it may take a year or a year and a half before Spatialand’s products are revealed.
“The team will develop and explore new products and uses of VR through immersive retail environments that can be incorporated by all facets of Walmart, online and offline,” said Finnegan.
No big deal
While the deal’s financial terms were not revealed, it is understood to be a tiny deal by all standards. Some of the projects that are under Walmart’s technology incubator include an initiative which aims to develop a cashier-free store and a highly customized personal shopping service.
The acquisition of Spatialand by Walmart comes in the wake of a survey conducted by LendEDU showing that when the prices of five product categories were compared the big box retailer turned out to be 34% cheaper than online retail giant Amazon. The five product categories were Technology and Entertainment, Kitchen/Home Appliances, Food & Beverages, Home Goods as well as miscellaneous items.
However with regards to food staples such as cereal, soda, bottled water, pasta sauce and coffee Amazon was cheaper than Walmart. This was attributed to the fact that Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market last year. Some of the food products were cheaper by as much as 46% on Amazon than at Walmart.