The RD’s Role in the Metaverse
By RDBA CEO Phil Lempert
The metaverse is a lot more than just the latest fad or a way for tech companies to earn huge dollars from retailers and brands to experiment with the latest cool idea (that may or may not become a reality). The metaverse has been around for a couple decades and was born in the gaming world, evolved back in 2003 into Second Life and then took a set back a bit when Google introduced Google Glass in 2013. Perhaps shoppers were not ready for the technology, or it was too clunky, unstable or expensive. Now, that’s all changed.
Today you’ll still need an Oculus, HTC, Pansonite or other virtual reality headset to enter a metaverse (and there are many to choose from) and not all headsets will allow you to access all metaverses. Apple’s long-awaited entry into the VR world, which is expected later this year, will most likely make it easier and certainly more stylish to become addicted to this new world.
Already many retailers (including grocery) have launched or been working on their virtual worlds. McDonald’s, for example, is building a virtual restaurant where customers can visit, presumably find nutritional information and ingredient listings, probably download or purchase McDonald’s SWAG (secretly don’t you want a Ronald McDonald wig?), and most importantly, order real food and have it delivered to your home or office.
A just released study from InContext finds that 85 percent of respondents said that shopping virtually was “easy to shop”; for those households with kids and Millenials that percentage increased to 92 percent. The survey’s top rating for the experience itself was that “I had fun shopping in this virtual shopping experience,” a trait that every grocery retailer is attempting to deliver on, especially since the pandemic altered shoppers’ in-store experiences.
The future of virtual stores is dynamic, personal, and offers retail dietitians an entirely new platform through which to educate and empower shoppers.
A virtual supermarket can include many benefits that go well beyond having 3D packaging where shoppers can read and compare nutritionals, ingredients, and prices. With a flick of a finger, it can also reveal ingredient sourcing information, allergens, and the brand’s sustainability ratings.
Imagine creating interactive “dining clubs” based on health attributes, cooking classes and demos, educational classes, store tours and even creating loyalty programs focused around buying healthier foods.
This grocery technological revolution will not replace brick and mortar stores, but it will enhance the at-home shopping experience; especially for those Millenials and Generation Z shoppers that seemingly were born attached to their iPhones and Xboxes. The key to success for grocery retail in the metaverse will be high quality content. Retailers will have to make wise choices and really understand what their customers want from a virtual experience.
And that’s where you come in!