Top Retailers Like Walmart and Lowe's Enter the Metaverse: How to Harness the Power of Web3, VR, and AR
What is the metaverse? There’s no hard and fast rule as it is a technology and concept that is largely still in development, particularly within the retail industry, but RIS is committed to nailing down and outlining a metaverse-focused strategy.
Most sources say it’s simply a virtual reality space where participants can interact with a computer-generated environment (and other users). Kris Kolo, global executive director of the VR/AR association, defines the metaverse as “next-gen internet.”
Metaverse Use Cases
According to Deloitte, the top use cases span across five categories: marketing, product, commerce, supply chain/ops, and talent. Within these buckets, the highest-priority items are product placement, product testing and try-on, enhanced e-commerce shopping, manufacturing design and testing, and employee collaboration.
“To make any of these use cases a reality, companies need to be prepared to leverage the foundational technologies underpinning the metaverse while nimbly adapting to its rapid rate of change,” said Deloitte in its “Retail in the Metaverse: Understanding Opportunities” article.
“An online virtual platform with 3D capabilities that enables immersive experiences consisting of avatars (personal identities), gaming/social aspects, and in many cases virtual and/or augmented reality — resulting in more engaging, stimulating, and expressive experiences that are essential to get the attention of younger demographics,” Kolo tells RIS.
RIS has seen a large range of implementations across the retail space.
The best use case? Right now, major retailers like Walmart, Crate & Barrel, and Pacsun are leveraging the technology to get closer to consumers, providing them with an experiential way to connect with the brand — and sometimes even as a path toward ancillary revenue.
We took a look at some of the major metaverse rollouts of the past year, tapping into leading retailer examples, timely research, and expert voices to highlight innovations in the space and provide a guide for harnessing the power of virtual reality within your own organization.
Top Retailers Jumping Into the Metaverse
Crate & Barrel
Roblox is a subset of the true metaverse, says Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer and founder of Journey — a web3/metaverse design consultancy firm.
“To me, there is only one capital ‘M’ metaverse, and within that metaverse there are lower case ‘m’ metaverses, but I prefer to call them virtual worlds,” she tells RIS. “So to me Roblox, Fornite, Second Life are virtual worlds.”
Pacsun is experimenting with both Roblox and NFTs. The company just launched its second Roblox initiative, Pacsun Los Angeles Tycoon on Roblox. At virtual, multi-day festival ComplexLand last spring, Pacsun highlighted its resell initiative, PS Reserve, within a three-level store that gave consumers access to products from Pacsun, Playboy, and the brand’s new partner Cloud9, an esports organization.
"People who shop and wear H&M garments and accessories are increasingly spending time in virtual spaces and digital worlds. The H&M Loooptopia Experience on Roblox is now allowing us to explore new ways to engage with our current and new customers in the places they love to be, both online and offline," said Linda Li, head of customer activation and marketing, H&M Americas, in an earlier statement.
Taco Bell has been leveraging 3D virtual world and browser-based platform Decentraland for its web3/metaverse initiatives. Rather than recreating a storefront within the virtual world, the fast-food retailer has zoned in on lifestyle experiences, launching a wedding-themed contest within a replica of its Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. Earlier this month, Taco Bell announced that out of over 300 couples who applied to win a Taco Bell metaverse wedding, Sheel Mohnot and Amruta Godbole said “I do” on February 24 in Decentraland.
“We're always looking for new ways to meet our fans where they already are and provide them with signature Taco Bell experiences… even when that's in the metaverse," said Sean Tresvant, Taco Bell's chief brand officer, last year.
Why Decentraland? According to DCL Metrics, the website has around 8,500 unique visitors during a single day.
“These platforms are already working in the virtual space and expanding,” says Hackl. “Brands are seeing the value of entering the metaverse because some of their customers are already spending time in those virtual worlds.”
Home improvement retailer Lowe’s has taken a different spin on the metaverse, launching construction efforts with a building hub that provides free downloads of product assets. Through the asset hub, virtual builders could download more than 500 3D product assets that mimic real-world items across several categories, including lighting, patio furniture, area rugs, kitchen and bath accessories, and decor accents.