Project Profile: Walmart, Mattel Open Virtual Store

November 13, 2012 by Dave Haynes

I was being swept in a wave of humanity out of Toronto’s Union Station the other day and into a rotunda area that splits the hordes in two directions into the massive underground walkway system below the business district. Right at the fork in the PATH system was this virtual store being run by Walmart and Mattel.

The idea – like some others that have been tried – is a harried Mom or Dad stops and looks over a selection of toys for Christmas gifts, finds an idea toy, and scans a QR code to buy and have the item shipped, free of charge, from Walmart.

The store has two walls of three-dimensional toy images and will be “open” until Dec. 5.

Its interesting, like the others done by Tesco in S. Korea and by some copycats. I have my doubts about the take-up rates because of the dynamics of where it is located. There are MASSES of people, but they are all moving to work or to the commuter trains. This is not a place with ANY dwell time.

On the execution side, having a security guard (for the walkways system, not this program), just kinda tells people, “Do not come near! Do not engage.”

The slippery when wet pylon is also a nice touch.


  1. Ed Personius says:


    This looks like another brilliant concept with faulty execution, for the reasons you observe, and others. For example, the stated proposition is, “Shop Online Today! Free Shipping!” That is not the proposition. The message does not shock or motivate the viewer out of their routine to try this new approach. The true proposition is, “buy the kids’ gifts here, and be done with it quickly!” (That may not be stated effectively, but you get the idea.) Their pitch will not be understood well by the masses. But it’s a start. Hopefully the fail will not dissuade an effort at refinement, because it really is a good concept.

  2. An equally important (if not primary) goal of this installation is brand awareness (for classic and .ca Walmart properties).

    Given the single-digit uptake rate on any QR code-driven initiative, expecting such initiative to deliver ROI solely through revenue via product sales would be ludicrous.

    Instead, the install successfully breaks though the clutter of traditional advertising murals that frequent Union Stn. by offering a novel approach to the traditional billboard.

  3. Dave Haynes says:

    Yes, I think on the branding side this does the business in reminding people about Walmart and toys, though I wonder how many people need that reminder.

  4. […] the other hand, some people, like digital signage and DOOH professional Dave Haynes shared a different point of […]

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