Walmart Forays into the Metaverse—What Can Startups Learn from It?

Walmart Forays into the Metaverse—What Can Startups Learn from It

From patenting your intellectual property to seizing every opportunity—here’s what startups can learn from the “Walmart metaverse”.

On January 16, 2022, a news outlet reported that Walmart is gearing up to enter the metaverse. The retail store filed for numerous patents, with the goal of selling virtual goods, such as home decor, toys, sporting goods, personal care items and much more. The store also filed trademarks for the names “Verse to Home”, “Verse to Curb” and “Verse to Store”. Walmart spokesperson, Carrie McKnight, expounded, “Walmart is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences.” According to reports, the store will also launch its own cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Many other brands are echoing this sentiment. From luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, to shoe stores, including Nike and Adidas—nearly all brands are trying to break into the metaverse in its early stages. All things considered, there’s no reason your startup shouldn’t do so, too. 

Lessons for startups wanting to do the same

Here’s our round-up of the top five lessons that we can learn from Walmart’s foray into the ‘verse

1. Start experimenting right away

Currently, the metaverse is in its nascent stages. Thanks to that, there’s scope for you to try out numerous things and see which works best for you. This way, by the time the metaverse is adopted by more people, you will have established your virtual persona. Walmart expounded in a statement, “We are testing new ideas all the time. Some ideas become products or services that make it to customers. And some we test, iterate and learn from.”

2. Patent your intellectual property (IP)

Walmart filed for trademarks and patents in December 2021. In November, Nike, too, filed trademark applications to sell virtual sneakers and apparel. A trademark attorney, Josh Gerben, told CNBC that these filings are “super intense”. He exclaimed, “All of a sudden, everyone is like, ‘This is becoming super real and we need to make sure our IP is protected in the space.’ ” By patenting your technology as a startup, you increase your financial prospects and boost your value. Plus, investors are more likely to invest in a startup that has protected its IP. 

3. The metaverse is for every category

Whether you are a retail company or a food chain—the metaverse offers numerous possibilities for you to expand your business. As a retail store, you can launch a virtual store where people can shop for virtual goods. As a food chain, you can set up a virtual outlet in the metaverse where people can play games and earn rewards that they can use in the physical outlets. 

4.Take every chance you get to generate new revenue from online sales

Metaverse gives your startup the opportunity to attract and engage new customers. You shouldn’t let that go to waste. Though Walmart’s foray into ecommerce didn’t do very well, the metaverse gives the store a chance to redeem itself and enhance its virtual capabilities. For companies, the  metaverse is both—a chance to start afresh and enhance your current offerings.

5. Tokenizing physical products has many benefits

When you sell products using ecommerce sites, you have to pay a royalty to ‌intermediaries, like the site, delivery personnel and more. However, if you tokenize a product, thus converting it into an NFT, you can sell it to people directly without any extra cost. Later, shoppers can show the transaction as proof in the retail outlet and get that item.

The Director of News at news site The Block, Frank Chaparro, believes that entering the metaverse is a “win-win” for any retail company. He said, “Even if it just turns out to be a fad, there’s not a lot of reputation damage in just trying something weird out like giving some customers an NFT in a sweepstake, for instance.”

It is yet to be ascertained whether Walmart will launch its own metaverse or set up shop in another. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how the world’s largest company in terms of revenue, according to the Fortune Global 500 list, will navigate the virtual world. 

Header Image by Flickr

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