TECHNOLOGY

VR in China: How the Metaverse Amplifies Shopper Experience

By Edwin Hu

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The word ‘metaverse’ was selected as one of the "Top Ten Buzzwords of the Year” in 2021. While the metaverse is still in its technological infancy, marketing teams are hedging on this next evolution of virtual experiences to cash in on revenue when and if the technology takes off in more complex ways. The idea is that "extended reality" – the combination of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality – will become a key medium for social and business engagement. 
 
 
For marketers, the metaverse represents an opportunity to engage consumers in entirely new ways while pushing internal capabilities and brand innovation in new directions. Gamification and mirroring lifestyle choices in virtual spaces has become increasingly important for consumers — especially those interested in crypto-native approaches. 
 
Through movies such as Ready Player One, Avatar, and Westworld, viewers are seeing more ways to open the virtual world and build a human action model in the metaverse.
 
In 2021, when the concept of the metaverse became popular, all kinds of companies launched various products and services one after another and announced that they would enter the race to the metaverse. Facebook recently changed its name to "Meta" to align the company with its ambitions to build the "Metaverse." Since its launch, we are starting to see celebrities tab into this buzz by collaborating with companies to create web3 experiences. 
 
For example, Tony Hawk just announced that he will be creating a skatepark and 3D avatar collection in the virtual reality game, The Sandbox. Additionally, Mila Kunis has announced a partnership with Hot Topic and Toonstar to market entertainment NFTs though retail.
 
In China, Taobao launched ‘Metaverse Mall’ in time for China’s 618 Shopping Festival. This launch arrived at a very apt point in time. As Shanghai’s recent lockdown put an unavoidable strain on numerous retail businesses, the Metaverse Mall became a promising alternative for brands to generate sales and respond to their consumer demands while physical storefronts remained closed. 

In fact, as early as 2016, Taobao launched the VR shopping Buy+ program, using computer graphics systems and auxiliary sensors to create an interactive three-dimensional shopping environment, where users can interact directly with people and things in the virtual world, and virtualize real-life scenes. In 2019, Taobao launched AR makeup tests and in 2020 they launched AR glasses and shoes. Consumers can even enjoy the immersive shopping experience on-the-go with their mobile devices. 
 
SGK China has been participating in the Taobao AR Shoe Trial Project since the beginning of 2020, creating and launching the first batch of 3D shoe models for Nike. Through advanced 3D scanning technology, the reality is remarkably similar to that of real, physical products. At the same time, SGK also provides 3D modeling services for Burberry, Anta, Ezon, and other brands.

Tmall’s new 3D shopping feature creates an e-commerce experience that’s as immersive as in-store shopping, which enhances consumer engagement, improves shopping experiences, and helps brands generate more sales. 
 
In previous years, brands focused on photography and videos for online promotion. The lead time of the production lifecycle is lengthy and can vary from 1-2 months to complete the process of packaging, printing, shipping, and production. 
 
Nowadays, some brands have already laid out the digitization of 3D models. Take Unilever as an example. As early as 2016, SGK helped Unilever make 3D models and render product effect drawings. While creating the packaging design, the 3D modeling of the product is completed first, and as soon as the packaging design is confirmed, the final effect can be applied immediately.

 
In this way, the production lead time can be shortened to about 10 days (the production time of different products may be different) and the images can be distributed in marketing channels efficiently, which provides strong support for sales performance.
 
As a global packaging and brand solution provider, SGK has been committed to providing customers with advanced technical support and marketing solutions, creating value for customers, and collaboration in the era of the metaverse.
 
About Edwin Hu
Edwin has more than 20 years of pre-press management experience in packaging, familiar with graphic packaging design, production, printing, color management, 3D model making, etc. With good 3D modeling solutions, under the trend that packaging (products) is changing from flat pictures to 3D effects, he helps customers develop new promotion forms, and improve online promotion explosion, thus promoting business growth and creating more value for customers.