What Retailers Need to Know About the Metaverse – WWD

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    Technical, complex, and largely untested, retailers shouldn’t hate the Metaverse.

    “The big question that retailers are trying to answer is that investments in augmented reality technology will tangibly expand a brand’s fan base and open up real business opportunities that do not yet exist through the presence of physical stores and typical online websites. The short answer is yes,” says Mike Riggs, managing principal of IA Interior Architects, a global firm of architects, designers, strategists and environmental specialists.

    “As with most things in life, a moderate approach to adoption and consumption works best for retailers as the real and virtual worlds continue to converge. We should not ignore the inevitability of home XR (augmented reality) technology that gives us

    Riggs co-authored a research report titled “The Case for Retail in the Metaverse,” based on an IA survey last September, which received responses from 1,012 of 3,500 US adults. The idea was to explore the future of augmented reality in the retail environment and understand how it could appeal to different demographics across different income levels, ages and ethnicities.

    25% of respondents were between the ages of 35 and 44. 23% said he was 25-34 years old. 49% were white. 25% were black or African American. 15% were Latino or LatinX.

    83% of respondents lived in urban or suburban settings. 17% lived in rural areas. 56% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and about one in four has a high school diploma or equivalent.

    The most representative median household income is 19% for households between $100,000 and $150,000, followed by 18% between $50,000 and $75,000, and 13% between $35,000 and $50,000.

    Key findings include:

    • 80% of respondents experienced XR. 71% use XR daily or weekly.
    • 58% of 55-65 year olds and 77% of 65+ year olds have never used XR, and 30% of women 45-55 years old have never used XR.
    • Headsets and monitors were the most popular and frequently used for accessing XR.
    • Nearly 7 in 10 respondents have made purchases in the XR environment in the past, mostly gaming related.
    • Black and African American respondents were 1.8 times more likely to buy an XR.

    For those who had never bought an XR, the main inhibitors were security concerns, lack of access to the right technology, and lack of availability of the right kind of product.

    Over half of respondents report having used an augmented reality experience in a physical retail environment. 95% report having a positive experience using in-store augmented reality. This is primarily due to our excellent support and guidance, as well as our ability to use cutting-edge technology.

    “One of the biggest lessons for retailers was what IA first discovered: there was no detailed understanding within the market supported by research. We evaluated how we are engaging with augmented reality technology, which can impact both retailers and consumers’ in-store experiences. is needed, and retailers can take advantage of this “pause” in the Metaverse frenzy to strategize for maximum and greatest impact on XR.

    “Our research shows that female consumers over the age of 55, rather than tech-savvy male teens (who are typically the primary consumers of these technologies), are the primary drivers for future adoption of XR. Retailers should take note that this segment is part of the highest income group, eager to learn and willing to spend.Increase education in this segment and Brands that develop XR strategies to improve accessibility to products and services that can improve health and wellness will create a competitive advantage in the future.”

    To encourage consumers to use and purchase augmented reality devices in the retail environment, Riggs advises retailers to:

    • Provide in-store staff to guide customers through the use of XR technology.
    • Ensure easy and secure payment methods.
    • Give groups of friends and family the opportunity to shop together within the XR region while they are in the store, increasing their spending.
    • It gives you the opportunity to easily customize familiar products with XR.
    • Provide access to equipment for people with physical and visual disabilities.

    He concluded that “the lack of an evidence-based strategy based on the opinions of real consumers has led to widespread adoption of XR by both businesses and consumers.”

    When asked which retail sector would be best suited for the metaverse, Riggs said: To date, the most visible and widely discussed (though not necessarily the most successful) point of entry into the metaverse has been experiential retail events such as concerts and fashion shows. These generated some pretty mixed reviews.

    “Having said that, IA research shows that retailers who can customize their products and services motivate both novice and veteran XR consumers to engage with the metaverse.

    “An automotive brand has successfully introduced the XR into their design center. Customers can now customize their interiors while actually sitting in a luxurious seat mockup complete with virtual reality goggles. Home goods, furniture stores, and design centers that sell both large or complementary products for rooms can rely on XR, both in-store and in the metaverse, to design, visualize, sell, and deliver products to their doorsteps. We can help deliver the.” Riggs added.

    Riggs, meanwhile, said soft goods will take a while before the metaverse becomes more than just a vehicle for brand recognition. “We need some untapped development before the next iteration of the Metaverse takes place,” he said.

    In an email reply to WWD, Guy Messick, senior director of digital technology at IA Interior Architects, wrote: We’ve found that using VR gives designers and clients a better understanding of the built environment. Three years ago, we integrated Augmented Reality (XR) into our operations. A notable finding is that a client engaged in his IA in a virtual environment wants a bespoke “metaverse”, a secure space not yet connected to the wider metaverse. The desire for security is a primary reason, and a focus on the client’s brand and how it is represented is another. “His company is “actively working with clients such as his CBRE in Dallas to develop a state-of-the-art XR his workplace environment,” he said.

    The study highlights four modes for experiencing augmented reality. a monitor; a computer-assisted virtual environment or “CAVE” is a virtual reality room that can be shared by a group., Powerwall, a large 3D display of the product. Asked to name some examples of retailers offering these XR experiences, the IA executive named Ikea and its own app called The Place for augmented reality via iPhone and iPad. . Lucid Automotive, which provides stores with virtual reality headsets complete with seat mockups, and Canada Goose, which has interactive boot fits, 3D apparel displays, monitors and powerwalls.

    In its research, the IA characterized CAVE-based rooms as the greatest opportunity for stores to expand their product offerings. The virtual reality environment consisted of a cube-shaped room whose walls, floor, and ceiling were projection screens, and the participant wore his VR headset and interacted with it through input devices such as wands, joysticks, and data gloves. increase.

    The IA concluded that the biggest barriers to XR purchases in stores and online are:

    • Concerns about security of personal information.
    • Lack of access to technology and/or costs.
    • No suitable product or service.
    • The product cannot be touched, felt, tested or tried.
    • Payment is neither easy nor safe.

    The main motivations for purchasing the XR are:

    • In-store staff guiding XR.
    • Easier and safer payment methods.
    • Ability to shop on XR with friends, family, or groups.
    • Accommodation for the physically or visually impaired

    According to the survey results, virtual tours of museums, watching comedy movies, and music festivals are the best types of products and services for XR experiences.

    Respondents to the survey also indicated concerns about dizziness and motion sickness, but said the XR was good for dealing with anxiety and for people who don’t enjoy going out and still want to shop.

    For suburban women around the age of 45 who have little or no experience with XR, marketing strategies should focus on showing a nurturing and health-conscious side. For women under her 55 who live in the suburbs, marketing should focus on promoting the cost-conscious practical benefits of using an XR.

    For urban, well-educated men who are “exploratory and hedonistic”, engage in daily or weekly XR, and make non-gaming purchases, marketing is the most We need to focus on leading edge XR technology.

    In the research report section the IA advises: Her XR respondents, both current and future, speak clearly and almost uniformly about their need and concern to develop a safe and secure environment to ensure the future of augmented reality. ”

    Augmented reality is accessible via monitors, powerwalls, computer-aided virtual environments (CAVE), and headsets.


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