Sunday, June 16, 2024

Walmart Double Clicks on Gen Z and Gen Alpha With Digital Shopping Experience

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Walmart wants to give its younger consumers a pixel-perfect digital shopping experience.

The retailer continues to explore ways to engage Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and its latest digital shopping endeavor, called Walmart Realm, seems to be the latest step on that journey.

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Last week, William White, the company’s chief marketing officer, announced the new experience via LinkedIn.

Walmart Realm allows users to select from three different “shops”: one called So Jelly, another called Y’allternative and a third called Go Chromatic. Each of the shops, which are based on Pinterest Predicts’ trend forecast for 2024, has a smattering of purchasable fashion, home and beauty items curated by influencers.

Nava Rose, who has nearly 6 million followers on TikTok, curated a silver and gray-heavy assortment with products like a metallic jacket, gray faux leather chairs and a charcoal-silver lipstick for Go Chromatic.

Meanwhile, sisters Makenzie and Malia Fowler, whose joint TikTok account boasts more than 4 million followers, crossed Western style with gothic glam for the Y’allternative store, which features products like a moody black horse figurine, a denim jumpsuit and lip oil.

And Mai Phammy, who has 1.4 million TikTok followers, crafted a neon lover’s dream for the So Jelly store, complete with items like an electric pink jumpsuit, glow enhancer lotion and eclectic, wavy mirrors.

Justin Breton, director of brand experiences and partnerships at Walmart, told Sourcing Journal the company selected the influencers “based on their individual personalities, interests and [the company’s] belief they represent one of the three social trends.” Additionally, he said, the influencers are “names and faces [Walmart’s] customers know and trust to curate the products featured in each of the social trend virtual shops.”

As users browse through the stores, they can add products to their cart. If they decide to purchase the items they’re interested in, the experience, which has its own website, directs them back to the main Walmart website to complete the transaction. Walmart Realm does offer for sale products from Walmart’s marketplace, not just items from its own brands and inventory.

The gamification of the shopping experience seems to encourage shoppers to linger for the same amount of time—or longer—as they would in a physical store. Each of the individual shops is complete with a game that allows a consumer to enter a sweepstakes to win a $100 Walmart gift card.

When a consumer chooses to enter the sweepstakes, Walmart captures their email. As the retail giant and others continue to build out their emerging technology capabilities, particularly around AI-powered personalization, data on their consumers’ interests, purchases and activity becomes increasingly valuable.

Players can also earn rewards by collecting tokens in the shape of the Walmart logo. Once they’ve collected a certain number, they receive rewards, like a 20 percent off coupon for their next online Walmart purchase.

The company’s latest foray into digital shopping targets younger customers, Breton said.

“We know Gen Z and Gen Alpha are interested in unique virtual experiences that lend themselves to authentic discovery of new products,” he said. “They continue to challenge us to think creatively and embrace who they are while anticipating how they want to shop now and in the future.”

Though the experience hasn’t been operational for long, Breton said the Bentonville behemoth’s consumers “have responded with great enthusiasm.”

Users who the company already counts as fans of the Walmart Realm experience won’t have to wait long for the company to unlock more digital stores. According to Breton, the company plans to launch new Realms for back-to-college and holiday seasons.

Walmart had already established itself as a metaverse player with its Roblox efforts, like Walmart Discovered and Walmart Land. Last month, Walmart Discovered started selling real-world products through the platform; a physical purchase in Roblox would then unlock a digital twin of that product for a user’s in-game avatar.

Breton said the company will still continue to build out its Roblox strategy, even though Walmart Realm is not situated on the platform.

“It’s not a matter of showing up on one platform versus the other. We are betting on new forms of commerce, especially immersive commerce, and believe we are getting to help define the future of retail,” he said. “We’re excited that Walmart Discovered on Roblox and our real-world commerce capabilities will continue to evolve this year. We are also looking forward to introducing new ways to help users ‘find their thing’ on Roblox later this year, in conjunction with other experiences like Walmart Realm.”

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