Walmart has announced plans to enter the virtual reality and augmented reality space, which is a growing area of interest in the current Metaverse buzz. CNBC reports that Walmart filed trademarks that indicate it wants to develop its own non-fungible token (NFT) and cryptocurrency. One trademark application discusses “physical fitness training services” and “classes in the field of health and nutrition” that may take place in virtual/augmented reality. Separately on Sunday, the company said that it would be offering users non-fungible tokens, as well as virtual currencies.
According to a Walmart spokesperson, “we are constantly exploring how emerging technologies may be used to present a better shopping experience going forward.” “Some of these ideas become products or services that become available to customers, and some we test, iterate, and learn from,” the spokesperson said.
There are other retailers with plans to enter the metaverse, like Nike, which aims to launch NFTs and virtual sneakers, and Adidas has a “Into the Metaverse” collection of NFTs. Gap has also started selling non-traditional versions of its iconic logo sweatshirts. According to TechCrunch, the Metaverse is expected to generate $6.1 billion in transactions this year as companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) use the technology to offer deeper immersive experiences to millions of people.
According to research firm Strategy Analytics, the Metaverse market is expected to reach nearly $42 billion by 2026. In order to realize its vision of Metaverse, Facebook has announced that it will spend more than $10 billion. Recently, the big-box retailer filed several trademark applications indicating its plan to produce and sell virtual goods, which include electronics, home décor, toys, sporting goods, and personal care items.
Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney, said the filings were “extremely intense.” Gerben noted that the materials contained a lot of language, indicating a lot of planning behind the scenes regarding the cryptocurrency, the metaverse and the virtual world that is apparently approaching. Retailers are still reeling from being late to e-commerce; therefore, they do not want to miss out on the metaverse, said Frank Chaparro, director at crypto-information services firm The Block.
“Any company in retail can benefit from this,” said Chaparro. Trying something odd out like giving customers an NFT as part of a sweepstake isn’t going to damage their reputation much, even if it turns out to be a fad.