Walmart’s no stranger to blending the lines of physical and virtual brand experiences, but the company’s just getting started, according to Thomas Kang, VP and general manager, Metaverse Commerce, Store No. 8. Amazon isn’t far behind either, recently introducing a virtual campus where consumers can explore and shop popular series and movies.
In a recent blog from Walmart, Kang said virtual worlds are “changing the way we connect, play, and shop, and are poised to further transform our daily lives.” In fact, the company cited a report from Citi that estimates the total market for metaverse-related commercial activity will be between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030, and total metaverse users around five billion.
Over the next year, Walmart will be testing various virtual world experiences, connecting real-life commerce to these immersive platforms. Up next is adding purchasing capabilities to an existing House Flip mobile game for iOS and Android devices.
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In the game, participants can renovate and sell virtual homes, using certain paint colors sold at Walmart to virtually test products. Now they’ll be able to purchase physical items contextually and natively within the game. In-game items can go from inspiration to real-world decor without even leaving the virtual platform.
“We’re also adding new decor items from Mainstays and Better Homes and Gardens in the Walmart in-game landmark that players can browse and purchase,” said Kang.
“At Walmart, we see the growth and expansion of increasingly immersive virtual worlds as not only a chance to develop new ways to meet and engage with our customers, but also an opportunity to experiment with a new type of commerce, where customers can not only continue buying virtual goods, like clothing for their avatar, but now their real-world counterpart."
This effort builds on others Walmart has launched in the past, including a virtual fashion segment with clothing brand Scoop in August, which led to increased user engagement and purchases.
“With a projected 3 billion participants spanning all geographies and demographics, virtual worlds and games represent the fastest-growing category of entertainment, and they present us with the opportunity to redesign the shopping experience and invent the future of retail,” said Kang. “We believe in building commerce in virtual worlds and experiences for everyone, accessible via any device, that align with our digital values and meet the needs of all our customers. We see limitless potential with this emerging technology, and we’re excited to explore its possibilities.”
Amazon’s Campus Experience
For Amazon’s part in immersive brand experiences, the company has launched a virtual shopping platform through which consumers can shop for merch from their favorite Prime Video series and films.
Specifically, Amazon is tapping into the Gen V series fanbase, creating a virtual campus tour and store that will allow consumers to immerse themselves in the show’s world, including Godolkin University. There they can access about 150 products spanning university merchandise and dorm room products.
[Related: Amazon Anywhere Lets Consumers Buy Real Merchandise in Video Games]
The experience features an interactive campus map, an orientation video at the student union, a Vought-a-Burger location, and a campus store. Visitors will also be able to navigate dormitory rooms, and Dean Shetty’s office is the next planned experience.
Once within the experience, visitors can click the item they would like to buy, then click “Buy Now” to complete the purchase on Amazon.com.