Lowe’s expands into the metaverse with a tool to help visualize projects

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

It seems like every company is getting into the metaverse these days. Lowe’s doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to use it to help builders imagine projects.

But unlike other retailers that chose a particular virtual platform or game like Fortnite or Roblox, Lowe’s metaverse assets – including free downloads of 500 product assets, including items such as chairs – are available on its own hub.

“It’s all emerging, and it’s all up for exploration,” Lowe’s executive vice president and chief brand and marketing officer Marisa Thalberg told CNBC in an exclusive interview. The retailer decided not to choose a metaverse platform but rather “a kind of agnostic and kind of democratized approach,” she said.

While other brands have found immediate ways to make money in the metaverse, even on an experimental basis, Thalberg said “it’s not about jumping in immediately and trying to make an event or commoditizing it immediately.”

Instead, she told CNBC, “Our goal is really to take this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting and inspiring and enjoyable as their real world spaces. And that’s the only benefit we seek to obtain. at this point. “

At least that ‘s the only stated benefit. As the first major home improvement retailer to enter the metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, no doubt a key goal is seeing consumer behavior eventually capitalize on the opportunity that may exist. The assets are based on real products the company currently sells online and in its stores.

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

Analysts see a big breakthrough coming for the metaverse. By 2026, a quarter of consumers will spend at least an hour per day in the metaverse, said consulting and research firm Gartner estimates. Morgan Stanley estimates the total addressable market for advertising and e-commerce opportunities could be worth $ 8.3 trillion in the metaverse, with $ 697 billion in home and home related expenses. The firm lists walking through “home renovation plans” as an example.

“Just last year, it was estimated that about $ 100 billion were spent on virtual goods inside gaming platforms. That doesn’t even include NFTs,” said Cathy Hackl, CEO and chief metaverse officer at Futures Intelligence Group.

Metaverse participants have, in some cases, already paid thousands of dollars for unique non-fungible tokens from outfit aviators to luxury and fashion brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren. Gucci saw 19 million visitors to its Gucci Garden on Roblox. Dolce & Gabbana sold an NFT called “The Glass Suit,” with accompanying physical garment, for over $ 1 million.

For its part, Lowe’s is releasing a free, limited NFT collection of boots, hardhats and other related accessories for builders on the Decentraland platform of the first 1,000 participants.

Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, told CNBC in an exclusive interview that the retailer is applying many of the principles it currently uses for shoppers for this metaverse project.

“What we have noticed in our current mediums like Lowes.com and in our stores … people like to experiment and while they are shopping and getting inspired they like to put things together in the virtual world before they start their project,” she said. “It’s the same idea for the metaverse. That you want them to experiment, feel and understand how it is going to look before they start the project in the real world.”

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowe’s

Godbole said many of these metaverse assets have already been created as 3D digital versions of physical products available for purchase, to help visualize online shoppers with real-life dimensions and features. Lowe’s is already using virtual and augmented reality technology to allow shoppers to design an entire kitchen online or map their home floor plan as an example of their smartphone.

“There is just a huge appetite from our customers using emerging technology,” said the VR and AR tools Godbole. “We are applying some of those lessons in the metaverse.”

Right now, Lowe’s is not offering a physical good with the purchase of a virtual one, or any link back to its website from any metaverse platform, Godbole said. But that could change.

“In the future, we could absolutely think about, how do all these different things link, and make sure that [metaverse users] are able to shop these items on Lowe’s dot com or in our stores, “she said.

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical metaverse participant was “skews really young,” younger than typical Lowe’s shopper or homeowner today.

“But if you look at kids who’ve used platforms like Minecraft and Roblox, a lot of what they do there is fascinating enough, build and design. This idea of ​​being able to build and decorate and design and improve is kind of core. to how these spaces are emerging, “she said. “And so if we catch them young, that’s great, but we see a real utility too, as we look to a huge wave of millennial new homeowners who aren’t afraid of technology.”

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