With shoppers wanting unique experiences, the metaverse is one-way brands can engage with shoppers like never before.
More and more retailers are embarking into the metaverse as the virtual world gives brands a way to provide a unique experience for shoppers and staff alike.
The following retailers have made notable entrances into the metaverse.
For Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, Selfridges partnered up with clothing brand Charli Cohen, launching Electric/City. This virtual city allows shoppers to browse for exclusive virtual items as well as real physical products.
In this city, inspired by fashion capitals of the world, attendees become immersed in the environment with virtual avatars. They can watch virtual performances and shop from AR (augmented reality) merchandise vans.
Pieces from the physical collection included hoodies, jackets, and t-shirts with the much-loved Pokémon character Pikachu. Upon purchase, buyers use Snapchat’s AR technology to digitally wear the garment and can access exclusive Snapchat filters.
Gymshark recently went viral on Linkedin after its chief brand officer Noel Mack posted a video showing himself with founder and chief executive Ben Francis holding a meeting in the metaverse for the first time ever.
The footage showed Mack and Francis’ avatars in a meeting room, getting to grips with the revolutionary new technology.
In the video, Mack’s avatar says he believes the software is “a step ahead of Zoom”. Zoom is an online video conferencing platform that exploded as businesses were forced to work remotely during the pandemic.
The two executives changed their surroundings swiftly to demonstrate how avatars “move” into virtual rooms.
In February, Benetton announced its first foray into the metaverse with its own virtual store.
The fashion brand transformed its physical store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. They turned it completely pink in order to match its virtual store’s look.
There will be various gaming experiences allowing people to collect QR codes in the metaverse. The QR codes can be used to make purchases in Benetton’s real-world stores. With this setup, the brand creates additional connection points with consumers, and also strengthens its omnichannel strategy.
Brands such as Vans, Tommy Hilfiger, and BooHoo have partnered with the online gaming platform Roblox to make their entrances into the metaverse, but Nike takes it a step further. They unveiled the bespoke, immersive world Nikeland in Roblox late last year. This was inspired by the sporting giant’s real-life headquarters in Oregon.
The virtual world features arenas, fields, and Nike buildings where users can compete in mini-games. These include games such as dodgeball, tag, and ‘the floor is lava’.
A digital showroom also allows users to dress their avatars in Nike’s latest digital products, including classics like the brand’s Air Force 1, Nike Blazer, and Air Max 2021.
Forever 21 also made its entry into the metaverse with Roblox, launching Forever 21 Shop City late last year.
Users can experience managing and also owning their own Forever 21 store in the virtual world. The participants can sell merchandise, hire non-player characters as employees, and customize the store with their choice of product offers, location, interior design, and much more.
As players make their way through this game, they will earn points that they can use to expand their store or unlock customized options. The 21st of each month will be Forever 21 Day, with new themed content and activities on offer.
Whenever a Forever 21 collection launches, it is simultaneously released in the metaverse, to be worn and sold by virtual avatars.
Platforms For Virtual Retail Stores
There are now hundreds of different providers of worlds within the metaverse. The most popular ones include The Sandbox, Decentraland, Voxels, Somnium Space, and Meta’s own Horizon Worlds.
Retailers and other investors are gambling on which of these will become the dominant force in the metaverse and gain the most visits from our avatars.
Within the winning ecosystems, firms will have to try to pick what will become the most popular areas.
Canadian entrepreneur Andrew Kiguel thinks Decentraland makes a good case. He spent $2.4m worth of cryptocurrency ($MANA in Decentraland) buying a chunk of space in its dedicated area for fashion retail.
Mr. Kiguel, the boss of cryptocurrency investment website Tokens.com, has held a fashion show on the platform and plans to rent his space to fashion firms.
The idea for retailers is that your avatar can visit a metaverse clothing shop and purchase items that will be sent to you in the real world. Of course, with the other option, you can treat your avatar to an item of digitized clothing or give it a whole new look.
While Mr. Kiguel backs Decentraland, he notes that not all metaverse worlds will succeed. Similar to social media, in these early stages, the metaverse space will have some large winners, and many niche metaverses will have more success.
Adrian Cheng, a Hong Kong businessman, has decided to buy in The Sandbox. The boss of the property and retail group K11 recently purchased a plot of land on the platform for an undisclosed sum.
According to Cheng, they’ve invested in many start-ups to create a pavilion so entrepreneurs can showcase their real-life success stories.
Yat Sui, Hong Kong-based co-founder of Animoca Brands (the owner of The Sandbox), says; “What makes a metaverse world location so powerful is its network effect (i.e., how busy it is and how busy it can become). The true value of something increases the more people use it”.
In The Sandbox, each plot is 96m x 96m in length and width, with a height of 128m. You can buy one or many grouped together to form an “estate”.
The prices vary considerably depending on the popularity of the area. The average price for one Sandbox land currently stands at around $2,300. Late last year, someone reportedly spent $450,000 on an estate next to Snoop Dogg’s Sandbox mansion. The estate size is 3×3, but the cost of each piece of land in the area was said to be significantly inflated.
According to one recent report, the total retail sales across the metaverse topped $500m in 2021.