News Feature | July 17, 2017

Walmart Launches New National Competition For VR Developers

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

What Virtual Reality Means For Brand Marketing

Innov8: V-commerce seeks applications for technologies that will shape the future of commerce.

Walmart’s Store No 8 innovation unit and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Accenture are hosting a nationwide competition for early-stage developers of virtual reality solutions, which will culminate in an invitation-only exhibition of selected solutions in Los Angeles in October. The program, Innov8: V-commerce, is seeking applications from companies that “are developing technologies and content that will shape the future of commerce in virtual reality,” according to a Walmart statement. Winners will receive capital to fund development costs and strategic advice during incubation of the concept, along with an opportunity to work with Walmart, Jet.com, Thrive Global and other retail partners.

“Virtual reality creates a presence, a mindfulness, that nothing else today can. We are looking to leverage virtual reality to drastically enhance the way people shop. Our first step is to identify the most innovative companies and minds in the space to help us on this mission,” said Katie Finnegan, Principal of Store No 8. “Innov8 will further define the future of commerce by inspiring and driving growth in the underlying ecosystem of technologies needed to bring shopping into the era of virtual experiences."

According to the release, each exhibit should embrace Store No. 8, Thrive Global and Accenture’s vision for the future of virtual reality, and the program is looking for ideas that are “fundamental to the next generation of immersive technologies, all with the mindset of creating a step-change in the consumer experience that makes shopping more mindful, more human, less stressful, and more enjoyable.”

Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce/founder of Jet.com; Katie Finnegan and Seth Beal, principals of Store No 8; Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global; Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director of Accenture Labs; Jason Welsh, managing director of Accenture Interactive; Kirsten Green, general partner of Forerunner Ventures; and Tipatat Chennavasin, general partner of the Virtual Reality Fund will comprise Innov8’s board.

“Virtual reality is rapidly transforming the way companies connect and engage with their customers and employees,” said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director, Accenture Labs. “Accenture is committed to developing and investing in this powerful technology given the potential we believe it has to drive real business value. We’re excited to participate as a strategic innovation advisor to Innov8 and look forward to seeing the ideas that emerge.”