The claim: A video shows what shopping at Walmart will look like in the metaverse
As companies look to evolve and adapt to new technologies, a video purporting to show a Walmart shopping experience in the metaverse has gone viral on social media.
The metaverse is a digital environment that combines technology, augmented reality and video for users to experience. The term was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in 1992, and in the decades since, tech giants have focused on expanding the metaverse past gaming and entertainment purposes.
“Walmart and the metaverse How shopping in the metaverse will be,” reads the title of a Jan. 6 Facebook video that accumulated more than 330,000 views and 7,000 interactions. “Shop in the metaverse and it gets shipped to your home.”
The clip shows a virtual avatar roaming through grocery store aisles and placing items in a cart while a Walmart employee on the corner of the screen guides the customer and recommends items such as red wine.
On Twitter, the video generated more than 11 million views in a Jan. 3 post with the caption, “This is how Walmart envisions shopping in the #metaverse. Thoughts?” Similar versions of the claim have been shared to Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Reddit.
But the video was created years ago by a digital marketing company, and Walmart says the concept does not reflect its current plans.
Special access for subscribers! Click here to sign up for our fact-check text chat
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the video for comment.
Video is from 2017
Walmart corporate spokesperson Robyn Babbitt told USA TODAY the video in question was created in 2017 by a digital marketing agency to imagine the possibility of shopping in the future through new technology such as virtual reality.
“Given that concept is nearly five years old, it does not reflect our current research and exploration of the role emerging technologies may play in our shopping experience in the future,” Babbitt said via email.
The demo was created by Mutual Mobile, a company that builds digital experiences, to impress influencers at a South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Walmart approached the agency to build a “fully-immersive experience” and reimagine retail shopping, according to Mutual Mobile’s site.
“Almost 5 years later, this demo is proof of how experimental VR once was and how far it has come today!” Mutual Mobile wrote in a Jan. 6 tweet with a four-minute video of the concept.
The video circulating online is not an official current Walmart plan, but the company has implemented new technologies in recent years.
In 2021, Walmart announced its plan to acquire the startup Zeekit, which specializes in virtual try-on technology, to create an “immersive and personalized experience” for customers. In 2018, the retail giant launched a 3D virtual shopping tour of an apartment full of items for purchase.
Fact check: Email requiring employees to use masks on Zoom calls originated as satire
Our rating: False
Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a video shows what shopping at Walmart will look like in the metaverse. The concept was created in 2017 by a digital marketing agency and presented at a tech festival in Austin. Walmart says the video does not reflect its current research and plans.
Our fact-check sources:
- Associated Press, Jan. 7, Video shows 2017 Walmart virtual reality demonstration
- Robyn Babbitt, Jan. 11, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Mutual Mobile, accessed Jan. 12, Reimagining Retail With Virtual Reality
- Mutual Mobile, Jan. 6, Tweet
- Walmart, May 13, 2021, Walmart Announces Plans To Acquire Zeekit, a Leading Virtual Fitting Room Platform, To Enable Enhanced and Social Shopping Experience for Customer
- Walmart, June 27, 2018, Walmart.com to Introduce New Home Shopping Features: 3D Virtual Shopping Tour and “Buy The Room”
- USA TODAY, June 28, 2018, Walmart offers a 3D tour to get shoppers to look, click and buy
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app, or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.