Even though the media has shifted its focus away from the metaverse, consumers’ interaction with the virtual realm is far from over. At least that’s what Patrice Louvet, the chief executive of Ralph Lauren, has to say about it.
“We are investing in the metaverse. We want to be where our consumer is. And that’s where the younger population is. That’s where they want to engage with brands like us,” Louvet said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Louvet said the company has formed a collaboration with Fortnite to launch boots that players can outfit their avatars with. However, a tangible version for the physical world is still in the works.
Louvet made a point that the absence of media coverage doesn’t necessarily equate to a lack of consumer engagement. An intriguing strategy is introducing products via the metaverse (or other virtual realms) before bringing them into the physical world.
In March, PYMNTS stated that retailers were using augmented reality (AR) not just to drive consumer purchases, but also to enhance consumer confidence in buying decisions. Retailers can enhance their own confidence in selecting products for the physical market by using AR as a tool to experiment with and test out products.
AR Snapchat lenses, for example, have transformed how brands gather insights into consumer behavior, particularly for products like lipstick colors and jewelry. Through these lenses, retailers can discover data that informs their product offerings and marketing strategies.
Over the course of 10 years, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has committed significant resources to AR. They have now introduced a Shopping Suite, which encompasses an array of try-on and sizing tools tailored for clothing, footwear and eyewear.
“Over the last decade, we’ve been hard at work bringing fun and personal AR experiences to Snapchatters,” said Jill Popelka, head of AR enterprise services at Snap, at the time of the launch. “In the next decade, we’re excited to take our world-class AR technology to businesses’ websites, apps and even into their physical locations.”
The company has more than 250 million users engage with AR on Snapchat every day.
Elizabeth Arden has introduced a virtual store that combines browsing, gaming, and shopping, while Aéropostale has collaborated with MetaversePlus to provide an immersive metaverse experience involving shopping, socializing, and gaming. However, these initiatives are not merely responses to the metaverse trend’s popularity.
According to data from McKinsey, the metaverse is anticipated to unlock possibilities for enterprises and is forecasted to yield a commerce volume of up to $2.6 trillion by 2030.
Sascha Münger, Worldline’s metaverse specialist, labels the immersive virtual realm as “the sales channel of the future,” envisioning it to become a potential commerce avenue, running parallel to point of sale (PoS) and eCommerce.
Recognizing this potential, Worldline opted to establish a shopping mall within Decentraland. This move allows its merchants to construct a presence in the Web3 realm and capitalize on the prospects presented by the virtual world.
The customized shopping mall solution provides merchants with various package options, encompassing everything from shop rentals to integration with Worldline’s conventional payment infrastructure, encompassing credit cards, mobile payments, and cryptocurrency transactions using bitcoin and ethereum.
To truly spark the metaverse’s growth, Münger emphasized the necessity for accelerated technological advancements. A pivotal aspect will involve establishing interoperability standards that bridge the various virtual realms.
This is where blockchain technology assumes significance: “When you buy a hoodie for your virtual avatar, you want to use it in different worlds and not just in one world. And this is where NFT technology based on blockchain can help because as the owner, you could connect your wallets to all those different worlds.”
Building upon this concept, as retailers observe products transitioning to different virtual realms, it can serve as an indicator of whether they should consider introducing the same product into the physical world.