Walmart, the popular retailer, appears to be buying into the metaverse big time. The company apparently wants to create a cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, NFTs.
Trademarks filed last month by Walmart suggests the company is planning to sell virtual good like electronics, toys, personal care products, etc. Separately, Walmart revealed it would float a virtual currency and NFTs. The trademark applications were dated Dec 30.
One of the applications dealt with physical fitness training services and classes in the field of health and nutrition that will be offered in AR and VR working environments. Another filing dealt with the logos Walmart will use for these businesses.
Bloomberg reports that the trademark applications included copyrighting names like “Verse to Home” and “Verse to Curb.” This suggests Walmart wants to be there for metaverse users doing online shopping.
Walmart didn’t deny the news, although it did not address the seven applications directly. It said Walmart is “continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences…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…We don’t have anything further to share today, but it’s worth noting we routinely file trademark applications as part of the innovation process.”
However, patent experts have gone through the applications and believe Walmart is very invested in these online ventures. The company had done lots of background work because the applications go into details of how the company wants to play in the metaverse and virtual world.
Also, Walmart had advertised an opening for a cryptocurrency product professional, a dead giveaway of the company’s interest in virtual currency.
Now doing business as Meta, Facebook set the ball rolling by announcing its metaverse ambitions and even changing its name. Since then, other companies have been trying to figure out how their business could plug into the virtual world too.
One of such companies is Nike, the fashion brand. It also applied for a trademark last November on how it would sell virtual copies of its footwear and clothe. It even collaborated with Roblox to build an online world unsurprisingly named Nikeland. The brand has also invested in a virtual sneaker company called RTFKT.
Other fashion companies testing the waters of NFTs include Gap, who began selling tokens of logo sweatshirts. The company bundles in a physical hoodie when you buy the tokens, ranging in price from $8.3 to $415.
Businesses are turning to NFTs to reduce online transaction costs and establish a new stream of income. NFTs can also be used to authenticate more expensive physical goods, especially for luxury brands.
Experts expect more companies to jump on the metaverse and NFT train as more consumers understand and dabble into these virtual concepts. Retailers especially will try to build an ecosystem around it as they are eager not to miss out on the new tech. Amazon and other online stores blew past the brick-and-mortar stores that delayed in getting in with e-commerce.
Frank Chaparro, director at The Block, a crypto consulting firm, expresses the possibility that the metaverse and NFTs might turn out to be fads but believes companies like Walmart have nothing to lose. “I think it’s a win-win for any company in retail. And 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.”