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

Lowe’s metaverse open constructor.

Courtesy of Lowe’s

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

But unlike other retailers who have chosen a particular virtual game or platform 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,” Marisa Thalberg, Lowe’s executive vice president and chief brand and marketing officer, told CNBC in an exclusive interview. The retailer decided not to go for a metaverse platform but rather “sort of agnostic, 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 right in and trying to create an event. or trivialize it immediately”.

On the contrary, she told CNBC, “our goal is really to cross this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting and inspiring and enjoyable as their spaces. of the real world. And that’s the only advantage we’re looking for At this point.”

At least that’s the only declared advantage. As the first major home improvement retailer to enter the metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, a key objective is undoubtedly to monitor consumer behavior to potentially capitalize on the opportunity that may exist. The assets are based on real products that the company currently sells online and in its stores.

Lowe’s metaverse open constructor.

Courtesy of Lowe’s

Analysts see a big breakthrough coming for the Metaverse. By 2026, a quarter of consumers will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse, according to estimates from consulting and research firm Gartner. Morgan Stanley estimates that the total addressable market for advertising and e-commerce opportunities could be worth $8.3 trillion in the metaverse, with $697 billion in house and home-related spending. The company lists “home improvement plans” as an example.

“Last year alone, it was estimated that around $100 billion was spent on virtual goods on gaming platforms. That doesn’t even include NFTs,” said Cathy Hackl, CEO of Futures Intelligence. Group and director of the metaverse.

Metaverse participants have, in some cases, already paid thousands of dollars for unique non-fungible tokens to outfit aviators from 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”, along with a physical garment, for over $1 million.

For its part, Lowe’s is launching a free, limited NFT collection of boots, hard hats, and other builder-related accessories on the Decentraland platform to 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 applies many of the principles it currently uses for shoppers for this metaverse project.

“What we’ve noticed in our current mediums like Lowes.com and in our stores…people like to experiment and while they shop and get inspired, they like to put things together in the virtual world before they start their project “, she says. “It’s the same idea for the metaverse. That you want them to experience and feel and understand what it’s going to be like before starting the project in the real world.”

Lowe’s metaverse open constructor.

Courtesy of Lowe’s

Godbole said many of these metaverse assets were previously created as 3D digital versions of physical products available for purchase, to help online shoppers visualize actual dimensions and functionality. Lowe’s is already using virtual and augmented reality technology to allow buyers to design an entire kitchen online or map out their home’s floor plan using their smartphone as examples.

“There’s just a huge appetite from our customers to use emerging technologies,” like VR and AR tools, Godbole said. “We’re applying some of those lessons in the metaverse.”

Currently, Lowe’s does not offer physical good with the purchase of virtual good, nor does it offer links to its website from metaverse platforms, Godbole said. But that could change.

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

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical metaverse participant “is very young,” likely younger than the typical buyer or owner of Lowe’s today.

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

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