By Francis Agustin for Business Insider US
Walmart will join Facebook, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Bumble, Disney, and a string of other companies with plans to claim their own corner of the metaverse.
The retailer, the largest private employer in the US, quietly filed several trademark applications in late December, which described extensive plans to sell virtual merchandise. CNBC was first to report on the applications.
Walmart is directing its attention to the virtual world, like many others, including Facebook, which rebranded itself last year to Meta and publicly announced its goals to invest and expand into the metaverse, a virtual space where people can interact digitally using avatars.
According to a filing, Walmart lists a variety of virtual goods it plans to sell, including electronics, appliances, apparel, home goods, toys, and personal care products.
A separate filing shows the company’s interest in creating its own cryptocurrency payment method and collection of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart filed seven separate applications on December 30.
“Walmart is continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences,” the company said in an email to Insider. “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.”
Despite many companies’ plans for the metaverse, business leaders remain unsure of how to create a fully-fledged metaverse. Analysts at Morgan Stanley have said that the metaverse could be an $8 trillion opportunity, but the challenge would be getting consumers to buy into it. However, Walmart saw its online sales thrive in 2021, with sales at $11.1 billion in its third quarter according to a Digital Commerce 360 report, which could prove useful for Walmart’s metaverse ambitions.
A number of apparel-based retailers have already begun making their own metaverse experiences. Gap launched its first-ever NFT art collection last week, with digital art pieces starting at around $9 a piece. Nike has spent over three years on patents outlining digital avatars to “cryptokicks,” with the company establishing its Metaverse Studio and acquiring digital sneaker company RTFKT in December.
Other apparel retailers like Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks with intent to open their own version of a virtual store, trademark attorney Josh Gerben told CNBC on Sunday.