The metaverse — a virtual world where people replicate their real-life identities, or are free to live as someone completely different — is coming. For retailers, it can be a revenue center where virtual merchandise can help metaverse dwellers realize their visions of themselves.

But as Meta showed in its recent financials, it also carries financial risk. Its metaverse division, Reality Labs, posted billions in losses over the last two years.

Most prospective metaverse users, retailers and marketers have many questions about how this all works. We asked Justin Hochberg, founder and CEO of Virtual Brand Group, to explain how this emerging technology will work. His agency built Forever 21 Shop City, a virtual retailing setup in Roblox, which itself is a social gaming environment — not technically the metaverse, but a prototype that will give retailers an idea of things to come.

In Shop City, customers buy virtual clothing for their avatars, and set up their own Forever 21 stores. In the Roblox environment, customers receive coupons toward the purchase of the same physical item — for those who want to twin with their Roblox avatar in real life.


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