Meta’s IRL store for the not-IRL metaverse

Meta’s 1st brick-and-mortar show will let customers dip a toe in the metaverse through hands-on experiences.

Meta’s 1st shop opens on its Burlingame, California, campus on May 9. It’s called the Meta Store — about as predictable a name as Boilprawn Shack, a shack in “Elden Ring” where a guy boils prawns.

It’s fairly small at ~1.5k square feet, but allows shoppers to try products, including:

  • The Meta Quest 2 VR headset
  • Ray-Ban Stories, Meta’s AR glasses
  • Portal, Meta’s smart video calling device

Why a brick-and-mortar store?

Zuck wants the metaverse to be huge, but that’s a hard sell when facing off against, you know, the real world.

One survey found 48% of teens are either unsure or uninterested in the metaverse, while another found just 16% of Americans can correctly describe it.

The Meta Store will try to engage the meta-ambivalent through a hands-on, curated experience.

That means sampling VR experiences like rhythm game “Beat Saber” or fitness app “Supernatural,” trying on AR glasses in various colors and styles, and testing Portal calls.

Shoppers will also get a 30-second clip of them trying VR in front of an LED screen that displays what they see in their headsets — which they could, naturally, share on social media.

Experiential is in, even for Big Tech

Online shopping boomed during the pandemic, but retailers can still draw customers in with experiences they can only have in-store. It’s a strategy that’s been embraced by toy shops, D2C brands, and early adopter Apple.

Apple launched its retail operation in 2001, with Steve Jobs touting how they wouldn’t just talk “megahertz and megabytes,” but show people what “they can actually do with a computer.”

Today, the company thinks of its stores as “town squares” where people receive peak customer service and take hands-on classes.

Following suit…

 … Google’s 1st shop in NYC has simulated living rooms for trying Nest devices, and rooms for testing its Pixel smartphone camera’s low-light options. Google recently announced it’s opening a 2nd store, also in NYC.

If Meta’s test store can successfully show customers why they want to enter the metaverse and what they can do there, it won’t be surprising if we see more.

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