1. Retail’s big bet on the Metaverse
The Metaverse. In practice, this virtual landscape has existed for years on platforms like Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite, immersing younger generations in digital worlds with their own in-game economies and digital identities.
With Facebook rebranding to Meta, and more recently, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, the expansion of the Metaverse is imminent. Generation Alpha will be the first population to grow up alongside the Metaverse. To capture these consumers, retailers need to be ready.
“While there remain more unknowns than knowns about the Metaverse, it is important for retailers to start developing a strategy and experimenting with different concepts,” Hilding Anderson, head of retail strategy, Publicis Sapient, said. “The time to act is now.”
Two major points of entry are immediately apparent. First, the development of a digital storefront alongside physical brick-and-mortar, with traditional e-commerce experiences evolving for the Metaverse environment.
“Physical retail is not going to die because the Metaverse won’t allow it,” Liz Bacelar, executive director, global tech innovation, Estee Lauder, said. Instead, the Metaverse will serve as an extension of the in-store experience. Digital flagship stores will be created in virtual reality, with one-click shopping done directly in-platform. In-store, services like virtual try-ons or augmented reality can help customers make better purchase decisions.
The second point of entry is through the promise of NFTs and the “avatar economy.” Fashion, luxury and beauty brands are uniquely positioned to create NFT versions of their physical products, or new product “skins” altogether, that, through limited release, can create new revenue streams in the Metaverse. Ralph Lauren is already experimenting with fashion activations on Roblox, and shoe brands like Nike and Adidas are exploring NFTs to offer exclusive experiences.