Roku today announced a partnership with a little company called Walmart on a pilot program to let you shop directly from your TV. You’ll need a Roku device, of course — and this works across the entire lineup of the best Roku players, speakers and televisions — and you’ll need to be in the U.S. From there, you’ll just have to click through the on-screen ad, and Roku’s payments platform takes care of the rest.
It’s not the first time Roku and Walmart have worked so closely together — there have been several iterations of Roku players that have been sold exclusively at the retail giant under the “LE” designation.
“We’re making shopping on TV as easy as it is on social,” Peter Hamilton, Roku’s head of TV commerce, said in a press release. “For years, streamers have purchased new Roku devices and signed up for millions of subscriptions with their Roku remote. Streaming commerce brings that same ease and convenience to marketers and shoppers.”
Roku is the No. 1 streaming platform in the United States, with devices starting at $25 for the low-end Roku Express. The Roku operating system also powers a majority of smart TVs sold, and it has a line of speakers that also supplement the experience. But where Roku really makes its money is in advertising — the “platform” side brought in more than seven times the revenue of the hardware side in the first quarter of 2022. (Hardware actually has lost money the past four quarters.)
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What we don’t quite yet know is exactly where the shoppable ads will appear. It makes sense that they’d show up in the usual display spaces — the large ads you’ll see on the Roku home screens (provided you’re not running an ad-blocker on your network). But it also wouldn’t surprise us to see them show up in other places, such as content on The Roku Channel, or in Roku’s own shows or movies. (It’s dabbled with first-party content.) The question is how unobtrusive such ads may be, or how relevant they might actually be to your shopping habits.
“We’re working to connect with customers where they are already spending time, shortening the distance from discovery and inspiration to purchase,” William White, chief marketing officer for Walmart, said in the press release. “No one has cracked the code around video shoppability. By working with Roku, we’re the first-to-market retailer to bring customers a new shoppable experience and seamless checkout on the largest screen in their homes — their TV.”
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