Lowe’s expands into the metaverse with a tool for visualizing projects

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowes

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

But unlike other retailers who have settled on a specific virtual platform or game like Fortnite or Roblox, Lowe’s Metaverse assets — including free downloads of 500 product assets, including items like chairs — are on their own hub available.

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

While other brands have found instant ways to make money in the metaverse, even on an experimental basis, Thalberg said, “It’s not about jumping in right away and trying to make an event or make it a commodity right away.”

Rather, she told CNBC, “Our goal is truly to conquer this new frontier and help people use their imaginations and help them make their virtual spaces as exciting, inspiring and fun as their real-world spaces.” . And that’s the only advantage we want to achieve at this point.”

At least that’s the only benefit mentioned. As the first major home improvement retailer to jump into the Metaverse and make its applicable assets available for free, a key objective is undoubtedly to monitor consumer behavior to eventually capitalize on opportunities as they arise. The assets are based on real products that the company currently sells online and in its stores.

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowes

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, estimates consulting and research firm Gartner. Morgan Stanley estimates that the total addressable market for advertising and e-commerce opportunities in the Metaverse could be worth $8.3 trillion, with $697 billion in budget and household spending. As an example, the company cites going through “home renovation plans.”

“Just last year, an estimated $100 billion was spent on virtual goods within gaming platforms. That doesn’t even include NFTs,” said Cathy Hackl, CEO of Futures Intelligence Group and Chief Metaverse Officer.

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

For its part, Lowe’s is releasing a free, limited NFT collection of boots, hard hats and other builder accessories on the Decentraland platform for 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 applies to buyers for this Metaverse project.

“What we’ve noticed in our current media like Lowes.com and in our stores … people like to experiment and while they’re shopping and getting inspired, they like to put things together in the virtual world before starting their project,” she said. “It’s the same idea for the metaverse. They want them to experiment, feel and understand what it will look like before they start the project in the real world.”

Lowe’s Metaverse Open Builder.

Courtesy: Lowes

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

“Our customers just have a huge appetite to embrace new technology,” as Godbole’s VR and AR tools put it. “We apply some of those lessons to the metaverse.”

At this time, Lowe’s doesn’t offer physical goods with the purchase of a virtual one, or link back to its site from any Metaverse platforms, Godbole said. But that could change.

“In the future, we might well think about how all these different things are linked together and make it happen [metaverse users] can buy these items at Lowe’s dot com or in our stores,” she said.

Thalberg acknowledged that the typical Metaverse attendee “wobbles really young,” probably younger than the typical Lowe’s shopper or homeowner today.

“But if you look at kids who have used platforms like Minecraft and Roblox, a lot of what they’re doing there is fascinating enough: building and designing. This idea of ​​being able to build and decorate and design and enhance is kind of core to how these spaces come about,” she said. “And if we can catch them young, that’s great, but we also see a real benefit because we’re anticipating a huge wave of new homeowners in 2000 who are not afraid of technology.”

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