Metaverse platforms are likely to give e-commerce a virtual spin

NEW DELHI: Gurugram-based non-fungible token marketplace developer NFTically has announced the launch of an e-commerce metaverse platform, Coearth, the first initiative of its kind in the e-commerce ecosystem. The virtual space, mimicking the spherical structure of the Earth, will allow brands to purchase virtual plots of land to build virtual structures or stores.

The metaverse platform is envisioned as a new type of e-commerce marketplace, which will allow brands around the world to purchase a 9,700 square foot unit of virtual land for a standard fee of $200 (approximately 15,500), Toshendra Sharma, founder and CEO of NFTically, said. The price is fixed at the moment but may vary as the concept gains momentum, he added. Unlike most metaverse platforms, transactions will not use cryptocurrencies, but fiat currency.

NFTically’s initiative reflects the growing interest in metaverse platforms from a wide variety of brands and the many opportunities it offers. Local tire company Ceat Ltd, multi-brand shoe retail chain Metro Brands and textile conglomerate Mafatlal Industries have agreed to join the metaverse platform. “Comearth will be accessible from August, and we plan to open more metaverse storefronts by then,” Sharma said.

NFTically isn’t the only company in India keen to give e-commerce a virtual spinoff. Virtual reality and video game developer, Gamitronics, launched its own metaverse platform, Partynite, on January 26. Since its launch, with a metaverse concert featuring Punjabi pop star Daler Mehndi, who also bought virtual land, the startup has branched out to include branded stores.

“We are working with multiple brands to create a metaverse experience,” said Rajat Ojha, Founder and CEO of Gamitronics. Among the customers is an Indian cafe chain, which is experimenting with a metaverse store on Partynite, Ojha added. “Users can visit the cafe in the metaverse and order coffee and it will be delivered to their home. This builds a unique combination of physical and digital experiences, which is more immersive than before.

Other e-commerce companies are also exploring the metaverse as a concept. On April 28, Flipkart, the local e-commerce leader, announced the launch of Flipkart Labs which will work to develop blockchain and metaverse use cases, including virtual immersive storefronts.

Clothing brands Vans, Adidas and Gucci have also explored metaverse stores. In May 2021, luxury fashion line Gucci teamed up with metaverse platform Roblox, to launch Gucci Garden, and later developed the concept through Gucci Town, a dedicated space on the Roblox platform, where users can dress up their avatars and order clothes from Gucci.

In April, American footwear and apparel brand Nike launched virtual sneakers, or Nike CryptoKicks, in partnership with NFT artist RTFkt. The sneakers offer customizable skins, which users can purchase as NFTs. One of these virtual sneakers was reportedly sold for $186,000.

That said, interest in metaverse stores still seems to be at a nascent stage, both in India and globally. While Partynite wants to add branded stores, it has held one-off events, including a promotion for Indian drinks brand McDowell’s in March and the announcement of Telangana’s space technology policy on April 18.

Experts have said that the opportunity for e-commerce metaverse platforms could be in the billions of dollars. “Over the next 10 years, the metaverse will reach one billion people, house hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and provide jobs for millions of creators,” said Ashish Pherwani, partner and head of media and entertainment. at consultancy EY India, said in a blog post in April.

Early adopters of metaverse platforms will not only have to recreate existing physical facilities, but also add value to them, Pherwani added. “Now is the time to start getting familiar with the technology.”

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