When it comes to the future of retail, Walmart is looking to enter the metaverse. What is the metaverse, you ask? Simply put, it’s a virtual world that allows users to experience shopping in a simulated environment. With Walmart exploring this new frontier, there are questions about what this could mean for the future of shopping. So far, it looks like Walmart is planning to use the metaverse as a way to offer customers an even more immersive shopping experience. Could this be another means by which Walmart dominates the retail industry? Only time will tell!
The Concept of Metaverse and How It differs From The Internet
Many of us know how the internet works, but what about virtual reality? How would people interact with it without the use of a phone or computer screen? The term “metaverse” describes this future vision of our lives in virtual reality. A metaverse isn’t just one game or experience, but rather an entire universe full of places to visit and things to do. How can companies and brands take advantage of this? How would Walmart go about marketing in the metaverse? Read on to find out!
The future vision of our world is not something we think much about, but it’s always there when we want to plan for what might happen in the future. The World Wide Web has been around for many years now, and it’s been a powerful tool to help us communicate with each other. But what if we could be inside the web? Instead of clicking our way through an internet-connected world, what if we could actually experience a virtual one instead? How would people find their way around this new dimension? How might they interact? How would companies be able to reach their audiences? How might marketing adjust in this new world?
The concept of the metaverse was first introduced by Neil Stephenson in his science fiction novel, Snow Crash. The idea has grown over time as technology has come closer and closer to making it a reality. Some call it virtual reality or even cyberspace, but the concept is basically the same.
There are some similarities between the metaverse and our current world wide web. Like the internet, it’s a place that people can visit & explore for entertainment or information. How then does the future metaverse differ from today’s online world?
How Walmart Could Enter The Metaverse and What Benefits It Would Bring To The Company:
Before we talk about how Walmart could enter the metaverse or discuss what benefits it would bring to the company, let’s first define just what a metaverse is. A metaverse is essentially a collective virtual shared space where people from all over the world can take part in 3D activities and events.
In this near future world of virtual reality, people will take part in shopping, various experiences and activities as well as socialization all within a virtual reality platform. How it works is that customers would visit the Walmart platform and experience what it’s like to shop there or access an event such as Black Friday or their latest promotion. The possibilities for this type of marketing are virtually endless as people can now be influenced to purchase items just by experiencing them virtually first-hand.
The benefits here for Walmart go beyond just influencing customers to buy more products simply by offering them a simulated shopping experience. It also means that retailers won’t have to spend so much time and money on traditional forms of advertising and may even reach new audiences they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to only focusing on traditional media such as television and newspapers.
For example, a person could visit the Walmart platform at their work or home and virtually experience Black Friday as if they were actually there in-person. They can see all of the great deals that are available this year without even having to step foot outside their front door. In fact, people don’t even have to be speakers of English or understand what’s going on around them as it is all experienced virtually through the sights and sounds being simulated from an actual event occurring elsewhere in the world. The possibilities truly are endless when it comes to virtual reality marketing. How Walmart enters The Metaverse will greatly affect how successful they will be among other companies that already exist within a metaverse environment such as Second Life or High Fidelity .
Some Possible Challenges Walmart Would Face In Making This Transition
A transition to a fully-realized metaverse might not be easy for Walmart. This company has worked hard to maintain its image in the United States and abroad, even if it means being stubborn or playing fairly loose with the truth at times. How would this public relations machine deal with all of its information being available to anyone? How would it go about censoring any topic that could damage its reputation? How will it monetize this new space when people can come together without buying anything? How much data protection is necessary while still allowing individuals access to other people’s profiles? How would Walmart’s competition play into the game economy given similar mechanics like companies like Ebay having their own virtual spaces already?
Individuals looking for answers may need to keep an open mind if they want to learn anything, especially since it is difficult to make assumptions about what this future may look like. How will the internet fit in? How much power should individual employees have when it comes to setting policies? How can individuals be held accountable for their behavior without shutting out other users unless action has been taken against that person already?
The newsroom section of Walmart’s website uses a heavily moderated form of communication, with traditional media outlets responsible for the majority of its content. The site does not even allow for customer testimonials on its product pages anymore, so how likely are customers going to tolerate an environment where they are often being censored by attentive moderators who deal with heavy traffic every day? Pushing out otherwise valuable feedback that will not be helpful to the company’s brand image could lead to people feeling unwelcome, and they may leave for other virtual meeting spaces where there is more freedom and less judgment.
As of July 2015, Walmart is still primarily a brick-and-mortar supermarket chain based in Bentonville, Arkansas. How will it deal with employees moving about this space? How does it plan on enforcing policies like those around its returns policy without infringing upon some user’s rights? How can outside companies requesting access to some aspect of its profile (like Facebook asking for permission to share certain data points) make sure they too are respecting users’ privacy restrictions? How will individual departments within Walmart interact if their virtual meeting spaces do not have a common forum where they can communicate their ideas and receive feedback from the higher-ups? How does it balance its privacy policies so that users feel comfortable coming to it with complaints instead of going directly to their target market or sharing an unfavorable opinion on a public space like Yelp.com? How will Walmart deal with high-traffic sites like Reddit if they choose to boycott the business on some basis (like this major retailer did when consumers noticed many of its goods were manufactured in China, stating “We made some mistakes early on by not understanding how Reddit could be used to link people socially”).
Conclusion on The Potential For Walmart To Enter The Metaverse
As virtual and augmented reality technologies become more popular, Walmart is exploring how the retail giant could enter the metaverse. While Oculus Rift and similar devices exist now, they are not yet widespread or commonly used among consumers.
Virtual reality technology would allow shoppers to experience a place as if they were actually there – such as walking through aisles of products and looking at them from multiple angles. Augmented reality could also be applied in new ways that expand on what we already see with Google Glass , allowing users to see prices and other information attached to specific objects in their view.
Walmart currently uses these technologies with its “Pickup Tower” and “Scan & Go” mobile payment app, but both initiatives still require customers to visit physical locations for the majority of their shopping needs. Walmart is likely exploring virtual and augmented reality because of how these technologies would be able to bring the store directly into people’s homes.
The retail giant has already filed at least one patent for virtual reality technology, which details a headset that would allow shoppers to experience an item before buying it. The main goal of this new initiative would be not only to increase sales but also to spread awareness in a new way in order to keep Walmart relevant in a quickly evolving market. While virtual and augmented reality are still finding footing within mainstream markets, Walmart has already begun researching how best to use them as part of its plan for continued success going forward.