Convenience stores are lost in the Metaverse
Convenience store’s recent moves into the metaverse mask industry-wide confusion about its value proposition.
Take, for example, 7 Eleven. korea seven, a franchisee of the convenience retail giant in South Korea, is preparing to unveil a concept for a metaverse store in which avatars can eat and drink virtual versions of items the retailer sells in physical stores. The company will share this On-line shopcreated in collaboration with parent company lottemetaverse subsidiary Caliversein the coming days at CES 2023, The Korea Economic Daily reported on Monday (Jan 2).
The Korean branch of the convenience store made its first foray into the metaverse in February, according to MetaNews.com, with a virtual experience done in partnership with Haegin that also apparently lacked built-in sales opportunities. Similarly, other convenience retailers in the country have also attempted to offer metaverse games, with Korean news outlet Aju Business Daily noting GS25 Y UC‘s entries in space.
Also in the United States, convenience retailers are looking to the metaverse to create a virtual brand experience. In July, Wawaan East Coast convenience store chain with nearly 1,000 locations, announced its move to the digital world with a series of digital resources.
These efforts seem like an odd use of time and money for convenience stores, whose value proposition is as inextricably tied, as their name implies, to their convenient locations. These retailers offer items that can be easily purchased at other types of retailers (supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies) and their main competitive advantage is their proximity to consumers, located on busy corners and at gas stations. Consequently, in the metaverse, the value proposition of convenience stores is irrelevant.
In fact, these early moves into space don’t even offer direct opportunities for real-world purchases, for which there is at least some demand. The July issue of the PYMNTS Digital Divide study, “Digital divide: the passage to the metaverse”, which was based on a May survey of approximately 2,700 US consumers, noted that 54% of consumers who have already used the metaverse or have a strong interest in doing so were “very or extremely interested” in integrating restaurant food in their metaverse experiences, and another 19% were somewhat interested.
Perhaps they may be in the information gathering stage, as Wendy’s is with their virtual reality experiences.
“Our presence in space is based on our long-standing approach to community development: Observe before going all-in,” jimmy bennettvice president of media and social media for the restaurant, he told PYMNTS in an interview.
However, enthusiasm because the metaverse seems to be shrinking. Sales of virtual reality (VR) in the US in 2022 is down 2% from a year earlier, CNBC reported on Wednesday (Dec 28), citing NPD data. Separately, as CNBC noted, there was a 12% year-over-year decline in the number of global augmented reality (AR) and VR units shipped, according to analytics firm CCS Insight. These figures, the drop in sales of hardware that grants access to virtual reality (VR), suggest that interest in participating in these digital spaces is waning.
In fact, studies find major sticking points that make it difficult for consumers to adopt the technology, with many users even feeling physically ill when they participate in virtual reality experiences.
“Despite technological advances in virtual reality (VR), users constantly battle nausea and disorientation, the so-called cyber sickness,” noted one study. “Symptoms of cyber sickness cause great discomfort and hinder the immersive experience of virtual reality.”
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