Retail

Walmart to acquire AR optical tech firm Memomi


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Dive Brief:

  • As it invests in augmented reality, Walmart is acquiring augmented reality optical tech firm Memomi for an undisclosed sum, the retailer announced on Wednesday.
  • The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks, at which point Memomi employees will become part of the Walmart Global Tech organization. The purchase will enhance Walmart’s eye care services, per the announcement.
  • Memomi has provided its digital measurement tools to Walmart and Sam’s Club customers at more than 2,800 Walmart Vision Centers and 550 Sam’s Club locations, as well as the Sam’s Club website, since 2019, the company said.

Dive Insight:

Walmart’s optical division has dramatically evolved since its launch in 1991. With its Memomi acquisition, the retail giant aims to further its strategy of using technology to “improve engagement, health equity and outcomes.”

Walmart has worked to improve its healthcare offerings in a few other ways this year. In January, the retailer partnered with Quest Diagnostics to allow customers to buy tests for digestive and heart health, allergies and infectious diseases, among others. In April, the company announced plans to open five new Walmart Health locations, which provide primary and urgent care, X-rays, dental, optical and other health services.

“Customers are looking for access to care digitally, in their homes, and purchasing eyeglasses is no different,” David Reitnauer, vice president of specialty services at Walmart Health & Wellness, said in a statement. “This acquisition supports our Health & Wellness mission to provide accessible care to the communities we serve.”

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Beyond deploying AR technology for eye care services, Walmart is using similar technology to assist customers remotely and in stores. Last week, the retailer announced plans to introduce the “View Your Space” feature for virtual decor and furniture shopping and another AR feature for in-store shopping. While the home furniture shopping tool will be available next month, the in-store AR feature remains in the development stage and doesn’t have a launch date. 

AR technology for eyewear has become more prevalent as companies unveil tools to help customers shop for glasses online. Warby Parker released its virtual try-on tool in 2019 to let shoppers preview their glasses on its app. In February 2021, Perfect Corp. debuted software allowing shoppers to test out glasses from online product catalogs, available through mobile web and desktop browsers.



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