Can Lowe’s build something tangible in the metaverse?

Discussion
Source: lowesopenbuilder.com
Jun 22, 2022

Lowe’s has joined the growing list of brands and retailers stepping into the metaverse with hopes of someday building tangible results in the real world.

The home improvement retailer yesterday said that it is making 500 3-D product assets available for download at no charge via Lowe’s Open Builder, a new hub that enables builders to complete their projects in virtual environments such as Fortnite, Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Roblox.

Lowe’s 3-D assets will include items like area rugs, bath and kitchen accessories, décor accents, lighting and patio furniture for use in both metaverse and non-metaverse environments such as augmented reality, creative design and gaming. In the metaverse, builders can incorporate the assets into virtual homes and other experiences.

The retailer also released a limited non-fungible token (NFT) wearable collection to allow the first 1,000 participants to clothe their avatars in boots, hardhats and other accessories. The NFTs are available for use in Decentraland, a virtual destination for digital assets. NFTs will be accessed via a free airdrop for users with links to a MetaMask (crypto) wallet.

“We’ve been at the forefront of building since the beginning, and the metaverse is in a pivotal stage of development,” Marisa Thalberg, Lowe’s chief brand and marketing officer, said in a statement. “It’s only natural that we would be interested in working alongside and in service of the emerging community of builders creating this new world, with the democratization of possibility in mind. At the same time, we are also very clear on our reason for being — to make homes better for all by helping our customers to create real world value in their homes, in their jobs and in their communities. This will continue to be our North Star in the metaverse.”

“Over the past several years, we have infused new technologies into the planning and shopping experience and know our customers have benefited greatly from being able to explore and test home improvement projects in the virtual world before taking the leap to implementation in their real-world homes or job sites,” said Seemantini Godbole, Lowe’s CIO. “By entering the metaverse now, we can explore new opportunities to serve, enable and inspire our customers.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Lowe’s decision to launch its own hub for 3-D assets instead of choosing an established metaverse platform the right decision? Do you think a real world payoff will come from these types of efforts?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is just a natural extension of Lowe's willingness to experiment on their customer's behalf."
"This isn’t a case of 'build it and they will come.' It’s more like 'fish where the fish are.'"
"...my question is this: does the average Lowe’s customer play in the metaverse?"

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9 Comments on "Can Lowe’s build something tangible in the metaverse?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Experimentation is no bad thing and Lowe’s should be commended for testing this idea. Ultimately, no harm can come of it. However the assets and the platforms are far from stunning. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say they’re pretty awful and are substantially worse than The Sims game I used to play as a child – despite the fact technology has evolved significantly since then! I do think the metaverse will make an impact in some ways, but I have seen nothing to change my view that there is a massive amount of exaggeration and hype about what is, ultimately, a very mediocre and miserable set of experiences.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

That image of a Lowe’s shopper you posted on Twitter yesterday is a metaverse classic.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

Lowe’s has always been a “quiet innovator.” They put a 3-D printer on the Space Station to print tools on-demand for astronauts, and they have been experimenting with Virtual Reality in stores as a way for shoppers to test out power tools. This is just a natural extension of Lowe’s willingness to experiment on their customer’s behalf.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Testing and experimenting with new technology is always a plus because there are always acute lessons that come from it. And the digital native Millennials are a good target, as they start to put some of their money into their homes. But my question is this: does the average Lowe’s customer play in the metaverse? Certainly it’s cool to re-imagine what a room would look like with AR technology, which is quite simple and has been around for a while. Perfecting this might hit a wider swath of Lowe’s customers than outfitting avatars in the metaverse.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I think this is smart, in my view it’s paving a way for an evolved commerce experience. If they had chosen an existing platform, it would likely fall into the hype cycle as in my experience most of those are either vacant or used only by a niche at this stage.

Lots of possibilities could come from this. The only drawback might be timing. Their experiments will likely infuse smaller incremental learnings as they go rather than a huge windfall. Adoption of the metaverse at scale is, unfortunately, still years away.

I am pleasantly surprised that Lowe’s is trying to find utility instead of building a space where people can throw hamburgers into a basketball hoop.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

This is similar to the question of whether a retailer should sign up with Amazon or do DTC themselves. In this case, since the metaverse is pretty sparsely attended, I would opt for buying real estate on an established platform. It would be like having a storefront in a mall with more foot traffic. This isn’t a case of “build it and they will come.” It’s more like “fish where the fish are.”

David Slavick
BrainTrust

Operating in its own proprietary environment is a smart move. Lowe’s has the resources and vision to do this on its own and not be limited by what other platforms may impose. The contractor as well as the DIY customer will appreciate this experience – very smart move!

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Lots of hype – not a lot of sizzle. My guess is they will expend way too much effort for way too little return by doing it themselves. Shoppers have been underwhelmed by this approach to decorating for years, with no signs of them becoming whelmed.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

Lowe’s has been continuously adding value to the Home Improvement division. They have positioned themselves as a visionary brand. Metaverse combined with virtual and augmented reality will bring customers an array of possibilities such as visualization capabilities. It will directly serve as a tool for customers to bring new frontiers into their imaginations.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is just a natural extension of Lowe's willingness to experiment on their customer's behalf."
"This isn’t a case of 'build it and they will come.' It’s more like 'fish where the fish are.'"
"...my question is this: does the average Lowe’s customer play in the metaverse?"

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