Store No 8 Envisions the Future of V-Commerce

Store No 8, Walmart's technology incubator for investing in ideas that will transform the future of commerce, held its first innovation gala on Wed., Oct. 18, bringing together today's brightest companies driving the next generation of virtual commerce.

The exhibition curated interactive and immersive experiences from five selected Virtual Reality (VR) developers solving vastly different problems in the v-commerce space, including scan and capture, rendering, social interaction and product education. The event was presented in collaboration with Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global as co-host and Accenture as a strategic innovation advisor.

The gala took place at a private residence in Hollywood Hills where top brands, technology companies and venture capitalists gathered to experience how millions of customers will shop in the future in virtual reality. Each exhibit encompassed Store No 8, Thrive Global and Accenture's vision for the future of VR.

  • 8i X Bonobos - Showcased volumetric video technology for customers to experience photorealistic holograms of real people. The platform enables interaction with a Bonobos Guide to select virtual shirts from a rack and understand fit on a hologram of a real model. The experience allows consumers to view how the fabric moves and get a sense of sizing, allowing for more realistic shopping previews and reviews, benefiting both customer and retailer.
  • Fyusion X ModCloth - Showcased technology to create photorealistic 3D images using only a smartphone. This technology democratizes the scan and capture experience allowing content to be created by anyone with any camera, with content viewable on any hardware. Capturing images in 3D allows deeper super powers than static images or videos allow, from automatic data tagging and background image effects to visual search. This technology allows consumers to experience the realistic feel of an item before they purchase without having to physically go in-store and provides retailers the opportunity to create interactive imaging at scale.   
  • Obsess X Rebecca Minkoff - Showcased a virtual store with Rebecca Minkoff, digitally generated with beautiful photorealistic quality. The platform offers the ability to create interactive virtual store environments that are customized to reflect the brand's identity, unlike the flat e-commerce experiences of today. The experience demonstrates the potential of virtual stores to extend beyond the capabilities of physical retail stores, such as allowing consumers to experience a fashion show as if they were there and shop the runway.  
  • Nurulize - Showcased Atom View technology which enables products or environments to be imported, edited and streamed into a VR volumetric space from any captured or created data source. Nurulize's Nu Design VR software application demonstrated social interaction where two or more people explored virtual items with unprecedented detail and interaction. For the first time, consumers can experience virtual shopping with others, creating a true social VR shopping and sharing experience.
  • Specular Theory - Showcased FAB (Families And Babies), the first safety tool and educational v-commerce platform using the power of VR, AR and AI to build trusted relationships between consumers, products and retailers.  FAB has the unique ability to identify child safety hazards and provide product recommendations based on a family's specific needs such as child age, to be virtually tested before purchase, making it easier for parents to shop with safety top of mind. Leveraging immersive technology, FAB is bringing education and commerce together to solve real problems, giving consumers an easier and smarter way to shop for their family and home.

"Innov8 is our opportunity to support and elevate the incredible pioneers of virtual reality who share our mission to explore nascent innovations that will emerge not in coming years but over the next decade," said Katie Finnegan, principal of Store No 8.  "During this process, our five Innov8ers have uncovered radical new technologies, approaches and applications across the virtual retail experience, that we know will play a major role in driving commerce forward at a time when technology influences all aspects of consumers' lives."

This summer, Store No 8 held an open call to growth and innovative early-stage VR developers to submit ideas, receiving nearly 200 submissions from around the world for the chance to present at the gala, with 30 percent of submissions received from international companies. Selected winners of the open call received capital to fund development costs and strategic advice during incubation of concept. At the gala, companies were provided an exclusive chance to showcase their ideas and connect with some of the biggest brands and technology players, influencers, and venture capital investors in the world, including Chanel, Westfield, Parsons School of Design, Google Ventures, NEA, General Catalyst and Norwest Venture Partners. 

"Right now, we're in the middle of a cultural shift away from burnout and based on the connection between well-being and performance," said Huffington. "The companies that will win the hearts and minds of consumers are those that shape our daily lives by making everyday experiences, like shopping, easier and less stressful. Innov8 will focus the industry's brightest minds and talent toward the development of virtual experiences that change the way we live for the better."

"Virtual reality is rapidly transforming the way companies connect and engage with their customers and employees," said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director of Accenture Labs and head of Accenture Extended Reality.  "Accenture is committed to investing in and developing this powerful technology given the tremendous potential we believe it has to drive new innovations and deliver real business value." As a strategic initiative of Accenture, the Accenture Extended Reality group helps companies envision, create and deliver impactful new immersive experiences that fuel new business growth by improving connections with customers, optimizing productivity and performance of employees and creating and monetizing new digital products and services.

The evening was sponsored by key brands and organizations in the technology and retail industries, including HP and Silicon Valley Bank, as well as Microsoft, who showed off the latest in mixed reality with Microsoft HoloLens and immersive VR experiences with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Innov8's Board of judges included Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, Marc Carrel-Billiard, Senior Managing Director of Accenture Labs, Jason Welsh, Managing Director, Accenture Interactive, Kirsten Green, General Partner of Forerunner Ventures, Tipatat Chennavasin, General Partner of the Virtual Reality Fund, Jeremy Welt, President, Invisible Robot Corp., Katie Finnegan, Principal of Store No8, and Marc Lore, President and CEO, Walmart U.S. eCommerce and Founder,