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Walmart taps augmented reality to reward customers

Shoppers who find specific images on signage in various Walmart departments can aim their smartphone loaded with the Super Hero Augmented Reality app at the target image to unlock a super hero’s power. Users who collect all five Super Hero powers will have a chance to defeat the bad guy and win the game. 

“Walmart is committed to creating engaging and fun experiences for their shoppers, across multiple channels of engagement,” said Sarah Spencer, director of national media relations at Walmart, Bentonville, AR. “The Super Hero augmented reality app is one of the many ways Walmart is bringing fun back into the shopping experience. 

“Walmart has tapped different areas of the stores, allowing Avengers fans to explore different areas of the stores to unlock multiple powers while shopping the broad assortment of Marvel’s The Avengers merchandise, available at everyday low prices,” she said.

“We hope that our customers download the app and find the bridge between mobile and retail both engaging and exciting.”

Attracting new customers
Augmented reality is still in test mode for retailers and brands while consumers are still learning how to use it.

Including augmented reality in a campaign such as this can help retailers attract attention and even bring in new customers who might typically shop there.

“Augmented reality is still new and exciting so it draws attention to a campaign of this type,” said Tom Nawara, vice president of emerging solutions and innovation at Acquity Group, Chicago. “The gamification in the Walmart campaign, the ability to take photos and do a scavenger type hunt, if done correctly, can lead shoppers to the right place for a transaction and to get information.

 “I think it is definitely reaching beyond the core Walmart customer,” he said. “This may attract someone to go into the store to see what this is like and may lead to additional transactions from customers who may not have normally gone into the stores.”

Exposing customers to augmented reality via a campaign such as this is also a good idea for retailers to get customers used to the technology in advance of more widespread use.

“The idea of augmented reality shopping is one that is coming, whether through a smartphone or Google glasses, it is going to happen as a way for finding the way around a store,” Mr. Nawara said. “So getting customers used to this type of functionality is good overall and if you can do it in a way that tied into a campaign, all the better

“If used in the right way, augmented reality can eventually lead to an increase in transactions and cart size by augmenting reality with additional information that a shopper can use,” he said.

Super hero powers
Upon downloading the new Super Heroes Augmented Reality app, customers have instant access to one super hero, Hawkeye. Users can only unlock the superpowers of the five remaining Avengers – Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk and Black Widow – from the aisles of a Walmart store.

The app also features a photo capture mode, which can be activated from an Marvel’s The Avengers DVD pallet in stores. A 3-D model of the super hero depicted on the DVD pallet will then become visible on the user’s phone. Users can take a photo with the Avenger and share it will friends on Facebook or via email.

Customers will also be able to visit a microsite for the campaign,, and look for an image of Black Widow that can be activated via the augmented reality app.

Additionally, an image of Hawkeye in the April 29 Walmart newspaper circular can also be activated via the app.

The app and merchandise related to the Avengers film became available this week. The movie will be released in the United States on May 4.

Customers can download the app from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Adding excitement
The Super Hero app is the latest example of how Walmart is tapping mobile to bring excitement to the in-store experience and enhance its tie-ins with popular entertainment properties.

In March, Walmart teamed up with mobile game phenomenon Angry Birds for an integrated marketing campaign that encouraged in-store shoppers to search for clues on Angry Birds merchandise that could be used to unlock bonus levels in the latest game.

“The Super Hero AR app is part of an ongoing retailtainment initiative for Walmart,” Ms. Spencer said. “In March, we launched the Angry Birds retail and gaming integration, and now The Avengers augmented reality in-store experience are examples of how Walmart is integrating technology and gaming directly into the retail shopping experience.

“As Americans are provided with more affordable smartphone options, they are beginning to adopt more mobile games,” she said.