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Metaverse Hype Was Just That, Some Retail Designers Say

“… It was huge 18 months ago and now crickets”




WE ASKED OUR BrainSquad whether they thought the metaverse was still of interest to retailers and designers and if it’s a medium worth exploring. Here’s what they had to share:

  • “No, people are interested in the metaverse because it’s shiny and new. I think gaming is a far more interesting and viable marketplace long term.”
  • “I do think the metaverse is of interest and is here to stay with the investments of major key players being announced. How it successfully integrates with retail is the real task at hand.”
  • “I think it’s one of many tools in a retailer’s chest. But think the hype might be just that.”
  • “Yes and no. Bottom line: people want what they want when they want it, so Amazon or some competitor will continue to gobble up business. But people are hoping for experiences, so brick-and-mortar shopping will continue forever. As climate change becomes more terrifying and imminent, large and small retailers need to step up in their actions and their PR regarding what they are doing to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
  • “The conversation has just died with our clients, it was huge 18 months ago and now crickets.”
  • “To designers, yes. To retailers, it’s complicated because the ROI isn’t there yet. Prediction: As luxury brands begin to evolve new bespoke exclusivity tiers, I could see experiences shopped via the metaverse first by the masses in order to gain financially vetted, qualified access to an invite-only speakeasy boutique.”
  • “Yes and no. Most have started to pull back on this and are going into different avenues. It came out with a bang but has slowly retreated and for different reasons. I think it came out too quickly before there were really guardrails and/or guidelines.”
  • “No, not in its current form. Virtual life is niche and just not as engaging as real life to most people. I expect we will look back at the metaverse as we do with the Nintendo Wii. Retailers should leverage training opportunities using VR and AR. Train associates and specialists on how to use products and equipment they sell; do scenario planning for customer service; extend training programs for ‘back of house’ operations and safety programs. Designers can use it, but it seems that ‘real time rendering’ has more impact today, and AI may be a future disrupter if copyright issues can be addressed.”
  • “I think we can pause on the metaverse and revisit it every 6-12 months. Culturally, AI is all the rage right now and is taking over the conversation. AI will likely drive data collection and digital conversations more than physical retail right now. There is a laundry list of things to work through before a display recognizes a shopper in store and serves up a curated digital experience specifically for you based on algorithms, so we are likely a couple years out on that. The tech is there, it’s just that we need to work through legal, cultural and ethical considerations … From a practical standpoint, we are finding VR and AR to be two quieter tools that are actually significant practical differentiators in the design process. Right now, we as designers should be embracing VR and AR (and physical retail experiences that actually matter), and leave the metaverse for happy hour conversations.”
  • “No. People still want touch and feel things first. It’s like a fancy catalog, some people like to shop that way, some don’t.”

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