How the metaverse is set to shake up retail

Companies coming to the NRF 2023 Innovation Lab are on the forefront of metaverse and artificial intelligence innovation
National Retail Federation

It’s been one year since Facebook renamed itself to Meta and cemented its bet on the metaverse, which has since become the most expensive tech project in history. It’s no wonder the metaverse has been the term on the tip of everyone’s tongue for the past year. But we’re only just beginning to collectively understand what it means, how it will affect our lives and what implications it can have across all kinds of industries — especially retail.

Whether retailers have already laid plans for how to play in the metaverse or they’re still figuring out whether they’ll have a place in it, it could dramatically change how brands deliver experiences to their customers forever. This year, at the NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show Innovation Lab, more than 50 visionary tech startups across the retail industry will showcase technologies in areas including artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, robotics, Internet of Things and more.

NRF 2023: Retail's Big Show

Don't miss out on this year's Innovation Lab. Register now for NRF 2023.

Here’s a look at some 2023 Innovation Lab companies that are shaping the metaverse and the future of AR/VR in the year ahead.

ByondXR is a retail-tech company that developed an immersive commerce platform to help brands, retailers and wholesalers create unique virtual stores and showrooms in the metaverse. ByondXR provides the building blocks that help companies enter the metaverse and has proven its expertise by launching stores in over 33 countries across the globe within various industries and for an array of products. They have developed engaging experiences for consumers to browse products online, build memorable connections with brands, explore inclusivity and accessibility, and decorate their homes more efficiently. The customizable 3D platform takes consumers on an interactive journey recreated with photorealism, immersive design, cart integration and gamification — and supports the beta deployment of virtual stores onto Roblox, Decentraland, Zepeto and more.

Rooom specializes in enterprise metaverse solutions, virtual showrooms, 3D product presentations and virtual events. Rooom built an all-in-one, web-based platform for creating, managing and sharing impressive 3D, AR and VR experiences. For example, with rooomProducts, retailers can easily and seamlessly integrate digital twins of products into their ecommerce shop or website. The platform also enables customers to configure products to their preferences and project 3D products in augmented reality right next to them. More than 310,000 users from over 120 countries are already using the diverse applications of rooom.

Bigthinx is an AI company focused on fashion retail and the metaverse, with products in mobile body scanning, digital twins, virtual try-on and showrooms. Bigthinx’s technology carries out a 3D body scan using two full-body photos for size and fit predictions, creates a personalized virtual avatar that is a photorealistic digital replica of the customer, and automates the production of 3D digital clothing from catalog photos at scale — which ultimately enables try-ons of any clothing virtually to see how it would look, fit and drape. The company’s digital tools are cross-platform and integrate seamlessly into existing websites or apps. Bigthinx’s customers include the world’s largest retailers and household-name fashion brands in the United States, Europe and Asia.

NRF 2023 Innovation Lab

Learn more about what's in store for the 2023 Innovation Lab at NRF Retail's Big Show.

Alpha AR creates 3D digital assets at scale. Using an AI-powered platform, Alpha AR enables users to automatically convert 2D images of real-world objects into realistic 3D digital assets. The platform enables users to easily create digital assets in minutes with no previous 3D modeling knowledge necessary. Compatible with any 3D environment, the digital assets are completely interactable and can be used in augmented reality, virtual reality, virtual try-on, gaming, the metaverse or even as an NFT. Alpha AR is meeting the demand of one of the biggest challenges in virtual and augmented reality as well as the metaverse: the creation of 3D models, which are historically time-consuming and incredibly expensive.

ReadySet accelerates the retail innovation process and improves shopping experiences through virtual reality solutions. As the first immersive 3D VR software designed for product manufacturers, retailers and researchers to autonomously design, test and implement retail solutions, it provides predictive analysis in retail planning by virtually replicating live retail environments to enable brands and retailers to discover how ideas will perform in the physical world before any large investments are made. ReadySet is used by multiple Fortune 500 manufacturers for planning across top retailers in the U.S. and Canada to design retail store floor plans and perform CPG market research.

Want to see the Innovation Lab technologies in action? Register for NRF 2023: Retail’s Big Show, January 14 –17 in New York City.

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