Walmart looks to 'reinvent retail' by selling physical items in the metaverse
|Get all the essential market news and expert opinions in one place with our daily newsletter. Receive a comprehensive recap of the day's top stories directly to your inbox. Sign up here!|
(Kitco News) - American retail giant Walmart, the world’s largest retailer by revenue, is looking to “reinvent retail” via the metaverse by allowing customers to purchase physical versions of the items they buy virtually in their favorite mobile games, like House Flip.
The rise of the metaverse and virtual reality has encouraged Walmart to experiment with virtual commerce, a new type of commerce where customers can purchase virtual goods for their online avatars alongside real-world versions of the same item for use in their daily lives.
According to a Venture Beat interview with Thomas Kang, General Manager of Metaverse Commerce at Walmart, the retailer plans to add new décor items from Mainstays and Better Homes and Gardens into House Flip, a mobile game that lets players renovate and sell virtual homes. The move will allow users to browse items in the virtual world before purchasing the physical version.
And Walmart’s plans aren’t limited to household items, as customers can also purchase virtual clothing items from Walmart’s fashion brand Scoop in the mobile game Zepeto, a virtual world that lets players create and customize their avatars.
Kang said that Walmart’s ultimate goal is to develop new ways to meet and engage with its customers and power commerce in the metaverse.
“We’re not trying to replace or isolate the reality with virtual, but rather connect it and make it better for the customer,” he said. “We want to make sure that what we do is contextual and authentic to the customer. We want to add to the experience and the convenience.”
He noted that Walmart has a unique advantage on this front as 90 percent of the U.S. poppulation lives within ten miles of a Walmart store.
“We have a chance to reshape and reinvent retail in ways that are good for the customers,” he said. “We can use our physical locations as places to engage customers. For example, if you buy something physical, we may be able to give you something virtually for free.”
As the system evolves, Walmart plans to allow customers to make purchases via their Walmart account without the need to leave the virtual world, helping to simplify the checkout process. Kang said Walmart is leading the charge in this regard because no other platforms or retailers currently offer a similar setup.
“We are well positioned in that environment because we are a commerce company,” he said. “We want to help these companies and brands sell their products in virtual worlds.”
Kang said metaverse commerce will revolutionize the field of retail commerce as time progresses and more developers sign on to create new types of experiences and platforms. Walmart’s goal is to build a metaverse for everyone that is accessible via any device, adheres to its digital values, and is capable of meeting the needs of its customers.
“We believe in digital citizenship,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are creating safe spaces for everybody. We want to be leaders in trust and safety in that environment. We see limitless potential with this emerging technology, and we’re excited to explore its possibilities.”
|Walmart CTO predicts that crypto will be a major disruptor in the payments industry|
According to a report from Citi, the total “addressable market” for the metaverse could reach a valuation between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030 and grow to a global user base of five billion.
“We believe that the Metaverse will eventually help us find new and enhanced ways to do all our current activities, including commerce, entertainment and media, education and training, manufacturing and enterprise in general,” Citi said. “Enterprise use cases of the Metaverse in the coming years will likely include internal collaboration, client contact, sales and marketing, advertising, events and conferences, engineering and design, and workforce training.”
“But getting to that market level is going to require infrastructure investment,” Citi said. “Investment will be needed in areas such as compute, storage, network infrastructure, consumer hardware, and game development platforms.”