Retailers such as Walmart quietly deploy the Metaverse

The global supermarket chain Walmart was rumored to accept cryptocurrency payments several times last year, but every time the rumor came out, it was refuted by Walmart. Cryptocurrency may not be able to enter this supermarket enterprise yet, but the evidence of Walmart’s layout in the virtual world of the Metaverse has been exposed.

Some media found that Walmart applied for several new trademarks at the end of December last year, and these trademark applications involved the manufacture and sale of virtual goods. Walmart also responded in a statement that it was exploring how emerging technologies could shape the shopping experience of the future.

Not only Walmart has filed for similar trademarks, but Nike, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also applied for trademarks for selling virtual goods in recent weeks.

This is enough to show a trend that world-renowned brands related to people’s clothing, food, housing, and transportation are catching up with the future generation Y and Z (American culture has a lot to do with “post-80s-post-95s”, “post-95s-post-10s” name), so that their products can meet the needs of the younger generation. If the post-90s are the aborigines of the Internet, then the post-00s or even the post-10s are likely to land in the Metaverse composed of virtual spaces and virtual characters.

The fashionable focus of brand owners is NFT. They have formed various virtual goods, including clothing, accessories and brand-communicating digital tokens, which are generated in the blockchain network and are irreplaceable in the encrypted world. Artwork etc. More experiments are taking place in consumer goods industries such as luxury goods and food.

Multiple retailers apply for trademarks related to virtual goods

Walmart filed a total of seven separate trademark applications late last month indicating its intention to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home décor, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users virtual currencies and NFTs.

According to media reports, the US Patent and Trademark Office said that Wal-Mart filed the application on December 30 last year. In a statement, Walmart said it was “continuously exploring how emerging technologies can shape the shopping experience of the future,” but declined to comment on specific trademark applications.

Retailers such as Walmart quietly deploy the Metaverse

A virtual goods online store service mark application submitted by Walmart

“We’re testing new ideas all the time,” Walmart said. “Some ideas become products or services, and some we’re testing, iterating, and learning.”

Trademark attorney Josh Gerben revealed that Walmart’s filing was in multiple languages, “which shows that there’s a lot of planning behind the scenes as to how they’re going to address cryptocurrency, how they’re going to deal with the virtual world that’s coming or has come.”

Since Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta, businesses have been rushing to figure out how to integrate into the virtual world, Gerben observes.

Walmart isn’t the only retailer trying to “make sense of the virtual world.” At the beginning of November, sports brand Nike filed a series of trademark applications, indicating that it has plans to sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel.Apparel retailers Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed for trademarks in recent weeks, showing their intention to open some kind of virtual store.

After filing for the trademark, Nike said it would partner with Roblox to create an online world called Nikeland. In December, it acquired virtual sneaker company RTFKT for an undisclosed sum.

Apparel brand Gap has started selling NFTs of its iconic logo sweatshirt. The apparel maker said its NFTs are priced from about $8.30 to $415 and come with a physical hoodie. Meanwhile, NFTs from Under Armour and Adidas sold out after their debuts, and these NFTs fetched sky-high prices on dedicated trading platform OpenSea.

“Suddenly everyone is saying ‘this is getting super real, we need to make sure our intellectual property is protected in the Metaverse,'” Gerben argues, as more consumers become familiar with storage in The Metaverse and items on the blockchain that retailers will want to create their own ecosystems around.

According to Frank Chaparro, director of encrypted messaging service The Block, many retailers are still hobbled by the late arrival of e-commerce, so they don’t want to miss out on any opportunities in the virtual world, “I think it’s a great deal for any retail company. It’s a win-win,” Chaparro said, “even if it’s just a fad and just trying something weird, like giving some customers an NFT in a sweepstakes, but it doesn’t do much reputational damage.”

What can NFTs create for brands?

The non-fungible token NFT is widely considered to be the infrastructure of the virtual world of the Metaverse, so this encrypted token minted in the blockchain network, which has value due to its irreplaceable characteristics, can be used for real-world applications. What do brands bring?

A report released by CB Insights in May last year identified NFTs as a “very real opportunity” for brands and retailers, with applications ranging from verifying physical goods, reducing friction in e-commerce, and generating new products through virtual sales. Revenues, brands and retailers can capitalize on the growth of the virtual world while connecting with consumers.

The report points out three NFT application directions for brand merchants – luxury players will lead the adoption of NFTs; NFTs will be increasingly used to create unique digital experiences where brands can interact with customers online; decentralized commerce will Practical use cases for NFTs as brands and retailers.

Since luxury goods and NFTs share the commonalities of “scarcity” and “intangible value-driven price”, the first application direction of the combination of the two is being tested and brought to reality. Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and Gucci are all exploring possibilities, and several luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Bulgari and Rimowa are also experimenting with NFT merchandise. And Balenciaga works directly with cross-platform game maker Fortnite, which sells NFT skins—virtual clothing and avatar accessories—for less than $10, as well as T-shirts, hats, and hoodies that sell for many times more than the real thing .

Retailers such as Walmart quietly deploy the Metaverse

Gap’s NFT hoodie is sold out

According to Morgan Stanley, luxury conglomerates could generate about $11.3 billion in sales by 2030 from virtual worlds that include NFTs and Metaverse games, a figure that could exceed $20 billion on optimism.

In terms of how brands use NFTs to engage with customers, the CB Insights report noted that not all brands can do business by selling virtual versions of their products, such as food and beverages, but they can still benefit from attracting customers by using NFTs, The target group is those who spend time in a virtual world or Metaverse.

Cases of this prediction also appear. A restaurant called Flyfish Club, a luxury “seafood-inspired” dining club owned by VCR Group, a hotel and restaurant operator, recently announced it will open in New York in the first half of 2023. It is reported that to enter the club, members must own Flyfish NFT. According to VCR founder and CEO David Rodolitz, the company issued 1,501 NFTs this month, generating about $15 million in revenue.

Consumer food brands are already promoting their products around the NFT craze and raising its brand awareness among new demographics by auctioning off digital artwork related to their brand or product.

Last year, US food maker General Mills auctioned 10 NFT digital artworks to promote the return of its chocolate-flavored cookie Dunkaroos, which discontinued production in the US in 2012. In addition to owning these NFTs, buyers with the highest bids will also receive some chocolate-flavored Dunkaroos before they hit the shelves.

How can decentralized commerce serve the use cases of NFTs for brands and retailers?

CB Insights believes that with the development of infrastructure, merchants can bypass e-commerce intermediaries such as Amazon or Alibaba and tokenize physical products and services to help reduce online transaction costs and arbitration risks. “For example, a fashion brand could tokenize ownership of a physical swimsuit and sell that token (ownership of the swimsuit) to any consumer or dealer. Payments can be in escrow to protect both parties and reduce counterparty risk. Then, Buyers can exchange tokens and have swimsuits delivered or resold.”

It is reported that the decentralized network Boson Protocol is already working with startups such as encrypted e-commerce company Splyt Core to build a decentralized business infrastructure based on NFT. Paris-based luxury NFT platform Arianee is already providing NFT-based tracking and authentication solutions for several luxury brands including Audemars Piguet and Breitling.

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