A growing number of brands are showing interest in the metaverse. Last month, Walmart’s trademark applications showed the company was preparing to create its own NFTs and cryptocurrency and would begin selling virtual electronics, toys, appliances and home decor. In fact, a real estate metaverse seller is planning to build a virtual mall.
Retail brands now see the metaverse as having real potential to change the way consumers interact with their products and stores and up their marketing game. According to research, 77.24% of buyers just stop at “add to cart” and end up buying nothing. The immersive nature of the metaverse is crucial to enhancing this experience.
Better shopping experience
Showrooms and virtual stores have come a long way since 2016 when the first virtual store was launched by eBay. Virtual stores are not only convenient and time-saving for consumers, but they decrease returns for sellers and can help expand customer base. Customers can discover products faster and personalization for each user will be much greater than in physical stores. Online shopping lacks the visualization and engagement that the metaverse can offer. Many features are tailor-made for retail businesses. Customers can explore different features and try different designs while time spent in store (a measure of sales) also naturally increases.
The immersive experience gives customers the opportunity to try out products and integrate them into their homes before purchasing them. IKEA has launched an AR catalog app that lets shoppers see what a lamp would look like in their bedroom before deciding to buy it. A study conducted by Obsess and titled “Metaverse Mindset: Consumer Shopping Insights” showed that 70% of consumers who visited a virtual store ended up purchasing an item.
Attracts a young clientele
Gen Z is very familiar with the virtual experience, which makes Metaverse a good choice for younger consumers. The investigation revealed that 40% of Gen Z and 40% of millennials, who made up a third of total respondents, want to buy virtual goods. Retailers now understand that going where consumers are is a better option than trying to get customers to physical stores. In addition, virtual connectivity has developed everywhere. A study by Snap and Deloitte found that by 2025 nearly 75% of the world’s population on social apps will use AR.
Fashion brands have led the retail industry’s foray into the metaverse. Brands like Nike, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, and Forever 21 have all had metaverse-based marketing campaigns. There are a few who have invested heavily in the sale bargain on the metaverse. Nike filed a bunch of patent applications, including one for a Metaverse studio, launching Nikeland on Roblox and buying virtual fashion startup RTFKT that creates virtual shoes and collectibles.
Luxury brands like Balenciaga are planning to create a metaverse unit in addition to having developed a video game for a new collection and partnering with Fortnite on virtual clothing. In this segment, Gucci is far ahead. The company sold a Roblox handbag for over $4,000 and a video that was sold as an NFT on Christie’s for $25,000.
Samsung has launched its own metaverse on Decentraland, a platform built on the Ethereum blockchain to showcase its products. Offering a virtual experience of their New York store, the platform sold NFTs worth $71.8 million within a week. The brand is now selling its smart TVs along with an NFT Platform app that lets shoppers explore and trade digital art.
The fledgling metaverse and gaming platforms already have a retail element, as these are marketplaces that already sell NFTs. NFTs themselves are another major aspect of the metaverse that retailers don’t want to lose. Just like Samsung, brands can easily use NFTs to improve a user’s shopping experience. They can be used as receipts or special passes for product launches to grab attention or can be used to create new digital products. In other words, brands can innovate in several ways to generate revenue using NFTs.
But the change is not just in one direction. A week after Facebook rebranded to Meta, the company announced plans to open physical stores to showcase its virtual reality headsets. Experts say the metaverse won’t necessarily mean the death of brick-and-mortar stores. Instead, the two could end up in a symbiotic relationship.