Meta Takes Metaverse to Brick-and-Mortar Retail Store

Facebook parent company Meta Platforms, Inc. (FB) announced on Monday, April 25, that it is opening its first physical retail store to sell metaverse-related products, such as virtual- and augmented-reality devices, as it extends its foray into the virtual world.

Key Takeaways

  • Meta has announced that it is opening a metaverse-themed store at its campus in Burlingame, California, on May 9, 2022.
  • Customers will be able to purchase the tech giant’s virtual-reality headsets, video calling devices, and smart glasses as well as demo its latest virtual gadgets.
  • Earlier this year, reports surfaced indicating that Meta plans other metaverse-related offerings such an NFT marketplace and hinting at the possibility of virtual payment solutions and financial services.
  • Increasing hardware sales through retail stores would help Meta diversify its business model amid a slowdown in its social media platforms.

In the store, which is expected to open at the social media giant’s campus in Burlingame, California, on May 9, 2022, customers will be able to purchase Meta’s Quest 2 virtual-reality (VR) headset, its Portal video calling device, and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses. The 1,550-square-foot retail venue will also feature areas for tech enthusiasts to try out its virtual gadgets and a wall-to-wall curved LED screen that displays images from the perspective of Meta’s wearable technology.

“Ultimately, our goal with the Meta Store is to show people what’s possible with our products today while giving a glimpse into the future as the metaverse comes to life—and hopefully demystifying that concept a bit in the process,” the company said in a statement.

It’s not the first time Meta has experimented with physical retail locations. In recent years, the company has opened pop-up kiosks at airports and malls to showcase its Oculus hardware products. Additionally, it opened a pop-up storefront at Macy’s in 2018 to onboard more small businesses to the platform.

Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Vision

Meta, formally known as Facebook, has immersed itself in the metaverse since changing its name last October. The tech giant’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisages virtual and augmented reality as a vital step to a futuristic digital world where people socialize and purchase goods and services through wearable technology. Earlier this year, reports surfaced that Meta planned to offer other metaverse-related offerings, such a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, as well as hinting at the possibility of virtual payment solutions and financial services.

Hardware Sales Diversify Meta’s Business Model

Meta’s decision to open a physical store comes at a time when the 18-year-old social media giant faces increased competition from newer rivals, including TikTok and Snap Inc. (SNAP). In the fourth quarter, Facebook reported its first-ever decline in daily active users, raising concerns that a slowdown in growth could adversely affect advertising revenue. 

Increasing hardware sales through retail stores would help diversify the company’s business model and strengthen its economic moat by having devices to target users with advertising campaigns. A 2021 privacy change from iPhone maker Apple Inc. (AAPL) that requires apps such as Facebook and Instagram to seek permission from users to collect browsing information has made it more difficult for social media companies to generate advertising revenue. Meta told investors at its fourth-quarter earnings conference call in February that Apple’s privacy changes will cost the company $10 billion in revenue during 2022.

The term economic moat, popularized by Warren Buffett, refers to a business’ ability to maintain competitive advantages over its competitors in order to protect its long-term profits and market share from competing firms.

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