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How to create inclusive shopping experiences in the metaverse

3d metaverse concept min
Asher Wren
Asher Wren
VP of Growth
Date
7 July 2022

The future of commerce will merge the physical and digital worlds

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – or, combined, mixed reality – have already become powerful tools for popular brands.

Just ask Samsung, which made waves by opening a virtual store in the open-source 3D virtual world platform Decentraland.

The benefits of mixed reality are huge. Google’s AR survey in 2019 found that 66% of people are interested in using AR to help them make purchasing decisions, and Shopify’s data suggests that products with AR content have a 94% higher conversion rate than products without AR – which isn’t all that surprising considering the 810 million people already using mobile AR.

As these exciting technologies develop, they’ll open new opportunities to tell your brand’s story in creative ways – all more inclusive and accessible than ever before.

Here are seven ways to create an immersive mixed-reality shopping experience that everyone can enjoy.

3d metaverse concept

Diversify the ways that customers participate in your shopping experience

In Kat Holmes’s book Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design, inclusive design expert Susan Goltsman says,

“Inclusive design doesn’t mean you’re designing one thing for all people. You’re designing a diversity of ways to participate so that everyone has a sense of belonging.”

For every aspect of your experience, ask yourself, “Can someone use this if they can’t see, can’t hear, can’t move?” And so on. If not, think of ways you can adapt to allow them to participate.

Use these adaptations as opportunities to break outside the box. For instance, the Touching Masterpieces exhibit, created by Geometry Prague and NeuroDigital in collaboration with the Leontinka Foundation, used haptic glove technology to allow users with visual impairments to “touch” 3D virtual recreations of popular sculptures like Michelangelo’s David.

While this specialized technology doesn’t yet apply to the every day, the not-so-distant future could have opportunities to build your brand through all senses, including touch and even smell, in VR.

Make your accessibility features explicit and searchable in every medium

No matter how brilliant your mixed reality experiences are, no one will buy your product if they can’t find it or don’t know if they can use it.

Accessibility digital marketer Meryl Evans faces a common frustration as a deaf person using VR: accessibility features for video games often aren’t searchable (or even listed), making it difficult to find games that she loves.

This isn’t unique to video games. Users with disabilities often have to put in extra work to figure out which products will be accessible, let alone enjoyable, for them.

When you highlight accessibility features like voice control and closed captions up front, everyone wins. You make it easier for people to find you while also showing that you value their time and their needs.

AR and VR technology could even make the search process itself more accessible. For instance, users could one day search via sign language with technology like Hello Monday’s project Fingerspelling, which tracks and recognizes hand movements through machine learning.

Embrace AR in your physical stores

AR is a powerful tool for mobile commerce, but it also holds huge potential for in-person experiences.

Imagine mixed reality animations that entertain kids while parents shop. Or personalized product recommendations, complete with directions to the relevant sections of the store and accessibility features like ramps. Or instant translation for people who speak other languages and need to connect with an employee.

AR glasses or QR scans paired with a mobile app could help people with visual impairments navigate stores and hear the finer details of products, like prices or washing instructions that are written in tiny print on tags.

In retail stores, AR body scans – rather than outdated sections based on gender – could help customers find clothes that fit both their style and their body.

The flexibility to accommodate people of various body types and abilities, including people in wheelchairs, could launch a new era of inclusivity in clothes shopping.

Create a fully immersive VR experience

Rather than replicating physical stores in the digital realm, we have the opportunity to create all-new virtual experiences.

Customers could try on your latest makeup look at a virtual ball, or run through the jungle with your newest sneakers. You could gamify your shopping experience with quests, or create a more social experience where people can communicate across languages – including sign language – with instant translation.

You could even follow in Gucci’s footsteps and sell virtual items.

These VR shopping experiences can allow people to participate from the comfort of their homes, opening doors for those with limited mobility or challenges with transportation.

Use a chatbot or virtual assistant

In the world of mixed reality, virtual assistants built with artificial intelligence could one day show up in people’s living rooms, giving them a more personalized experience – and giving you another opportunity to build your brand’s voice and story.

Even without AR, voice and text chatbots can provide an easy and engaging experience for your customers. Voice-based virtual assistants like Google Assistant can be helpful for people with limited mobility, visual impairments, or hands full of groceries, while text chat can be useful for deaf people, people with anxiety about making calls, and a wide range of other contexts.

AI chatbots can answer common questions and build a connection that feels personal, all while freeing up your human reps for more complicated cases. For those situations, you should make it easy to get help from a real live human, like how outdoor retailer Patagonia offers a specific phone number for people experiencing difficulties using a screen reader on their site, or how T-Mobile offers a phone call relay service that transcribes spoken words and reads out typed responses.

Give people the opportunity to stick to the basics

For many neurodivergent people, too much sensory input can be overstimulating. What’s fun for some may feel exclusionary and overwhelming for others.

Instead of forcing people to adapt to your idea of a good time, you should focus on their needs and give them the option to turn it off. Even an immersive VR store with lively quests and 3D replicas of your products should have simpler options, like a basic eCommerce website with photos and text descriptions.

This flexibility also benefits users who want to make a quick, straightforward purchase rather than playing in the metaverse or users who have a slow Internet connection and don’t want to wait for an animation to load.

And most importantly…

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Make accessible products

The most accessible shopping experience in the world means nothing if the product itself isn’t accessible.

So make something awesome and accessible.

Then help people find it.

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The future of the metaverse – featuring Forrester’s Mike Proulx

future of the metaverse
Sam Huston
Sam Huston
CSO at 3Q/DEPT®
Date
1 July 2022

The following interview was conducted at the Meta Festival on June 28th, 2022.

During this live interview, Sam Huston (CSO at 3Q/DEPT) spoke with guest speaker Mike Proulx, (VP, research director) from Forrester on the future of the metaverse. It has been edited for clarity. 

There’s a lot of hype around the metaverse. What’s your take on hype vs reality?

All research points to the fact that hype vs reality is not in sync. FOMO supersedes feasibility. Nearly ¾ of B2C marketing executives in the US have made (or plan to make) investments in the metaverse, but only about ⅓ of consumers are excited about the metaverse or think it will be “good for society.”

There is a big onus on companies to prove its value. The metaverse is an intangible concept right now. They need to provide and demonstrate to the average everyday person how the metaverse will enhance their day-to-day lives. 

XR by itself is not the metaverse. Roblox by itself is not the metaverse.

XR and Roblox are activations being touted in the press as the “metaverse,” but we don’t believe the true metaverse exists today. To be truly actualized, it requires interoperability so that you can bring assets, belongings, and identities from one platform to another. 

Realistically, we think the metaverse will develop in stages over the next decade and beyond. 

Should brands wait to invest in the metaverse?

We believe brands should use this time to test and learn–as long as investments and expectations are tempered. 

It certainly makes sense to understand how a consumer base is engaging with immersive tech. It also is an ideal time to innovate future use cases for when the metaverse becomes actualized. 

Once we’ve solved interoperability, what kind of experiences do you see emerging?

We should view the metaverse as a 3D experience layer of the internet. Eventually, we will live in a physical/digital hybrid reality as elements of the metaverse enter the physical world too. 

As society starts to value digital goods and services en masse, then there is a much bigger opportunity for brands to activate in immersive worlds. Today we see strong economies in gaming environments, but if the metaverse ends up being what we think it’ll be, then there is a greater opportunity to create branded experiences.

Brands need to approach all of this through the mindset of innovation and ask the important question, ‘How can I enhance the user experience within a given platform?’ 

RE: interoperability What are the conditions where this will occur?

It’s anyone’s guess. Some of the major companies currently building out their slice of metaverse (Meta, Epic Games, and Microsoft for example) are starting to collaborate. Given their level of investment, this action gives us reason to be bullish about whether interoperability can be a reality. 

Brands are sort of doing this today–take Under Armour. For one of Steph Curry’s sneakers, they launched an NFT where holders received virtual sneakers that could be worn across three different immersive platforms (Gala Games, The Sandbox, and Decentraland). 

Can you walk us through Forrester’s MVP model of adoption for the metaverse?

We used cluster analysis using survey data from Forrester. We created and scored a readiness factor for early metaverse adoption. Our findings were that there will be two initial waves of metaverse adopters. 

Wave one is what we’re calling “digital immersives.” This represents about 22% of online adults who will be the earliest of adopters. These are your VR headset and gaming enthusiasts. 

Wave two we’re calling “digital socialites.” They love using AR filters and social media creator tools and take time to personalize their social media presence. 

What questions should brands ask themselves before jumping into the metaverse?

There are four questions all brands should answer before investing in the metaverse. 

1. Do I have a clearly-defined metaverse business objective? 

Brands’ FOMO is rushing them to jump on the metaverse bandwagon and they’re cutting corners in the process. This is resulting in lots of lackluster activations. Be clear on WHY you’re looking to activate in the metaverse first and foremost and set your strategy accordingly. 

2. Is my target audience engaging with XR at all today?

Whether it is through AR, VR, or Mixed-Reality, how is your audience currently engaging with these 3D experiences? Are they expected to adopt more XR tech? If they are not using it, could they likely see value in the future? If not, it would be a waste of resources to activate today. 

3. Have I selected a platform partner with growth and scale? 

Remember, outside of platforms like Roblox and Fortnite, most “metaverse” platforms today have a low user base. To put it in perspective, Decentraland reported just under 500k monthly active users while Roblox has about 55 million daily users. The partners you work with depend on the kinds of audiences you are looking to reach as a brand.   

4. Does my brand activation add value to the core experience? 

People don’t like advertising. And they also don’t like to be interrupted online. Your brand activation must be relevant to the audience, respect the community, and be additive to the experience. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome because it requires breakthrough creativity and innovation. 

Creativity is the thing that differentiates your brand. If your experience isn’t unique (and valuable of course), it’s a waste of time for everyone involved. 

What about B2B? Or internal initiatives in the metaverse?

Enterprises and workforce collaboration might be the surprise onramp to metaverse adoption. 

So many companies are committed to “anywhere work,” but team collaboration is still a problem. If they can improve the workforce collaboration experience using  XR and metaverse-like experiences, they might attract workers and improve productivity. 

As workers get comfortable with metaverse experiences, they will start to use them in their personal lives. 

What’s your point of view on regulation?

Privacy, harassment, scams – we already see this. Humans are flawed. Even with the best intentions to build a utopian world, there will be issues. 

That’s why standards are necessary. There has to be an acceptable decorum that we agree on. Any stakeholder in the metaverse plays a role. All brands have a role to play in making experiences responsible and ethical. 

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What are you most excited about?

I’m excited about getting to a point where the bridge between virtual and physical becomes so intertwined, that our reality has a digital component to it. 

END INTERVIEW

Didn’t get to attend Meta Fest? You can re-watch all the live panels here on YouTube.

Or reach out to talk to our metaverse agency experts.

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Study: Only 16% of people understand what the metaverse is

16percentGraph 1 2
Kelsey Anderson
Kelsey Anderson
Sr. Content Marketing Manager
Date
14 June 2022

According to Meta, the metaverse is the next evolution of social connection

That sounds lovely, but what does that mean exactly?

Others say the metaverse will be the new front end of the internet featuring digital spaces and experiences.

Again…super exciting. But how do consumers feel about all of this? Are they excited? Horrified? Do they find value in owning virtual goods? 

In May 2022, we set out to find out by conducting a survey of nearly 2,000 consumers about their feelings towards the metaverse, based on their current knowledge. The respondents ranged in age from 18 to 60 and were all located in the US.  

Here are some of the highlights and how brands can leverage this data to accelerate metaverse technology acceptance and enthusiasm. 

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When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I understand what the metaverse is,” only 16% of people said that they agreed. 

This percentage was fairly consistent across all age groups, with 18-29 year-olds performing slightly worse than their older cohorts. 

Metaverse definitions are widely disputed, so it’s not surprising that users are confused, but herein lies an opportunity for education. 

According to web3 expert and brand innovator, Paula Marie Kilgarriff, brands should “stay away from saying ‘the one metaverse.’ What brands are doing is using technology to create 3D virtual experiences that encourage co-creation and customization. It’s really about augmenting, not replacing other experiences.”

By calling it a singular metaverse, your marketers and technologists are getting backed into a corner. It creates an in and an out crowd. Users might also think they need a VR headset to access the metaverse. 

H&M recently created a virtual showroom (and named it just that) to leverage 3D and VR technology. This experience could be considered a metaverse, but by calling it a virtual showroom, users immediately understand what the digital offering is, and why they might join.  

16percentGraph 1 1

Despite lack of knowledge, there is plenty of curiosity 

Even though most people aren’t exactly sure what the metaverse is or how it will benefit them, they would still join. Why? 

Simple curiosity. 

41% of users said curiosity was their number one reason to participate in the metaverse. Other reasons include gaming in the metaverse or attending a digital event. 

New technology is exciting, and people want to experience it firsthand, even if they don’t understand it. This fact should excite brands and digital businesses since curiosity and marketing go hand in hand. 

The NBA made the smart decision early on to experiment with curiosity to deliver gamified digital collectibles. A Top Shot NFT pulls inspiration from collectible trading card games, incorporating an element of reveal by allowing fans to “rip” open a digital pack.

The contents, digital cubes that rotate to reveal the stats and footage from iconic NBA dunks, are all highly watchable. But the moments they feature can be hard to find and collect, with just 0.09% representing the “legendary” moments that have been sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

By capturing fans’ curiosity about what their pack will contain, the NBA found major success with NFTs. Within its first five months, Top Shot netted more than $370 million.

Participation Graph 1 1

68% of users don’t see value in NFTs 

NFTs are a popular way for brands to experiment within the metaverse, and companies like Coca-Cola, Taco Bell, and the NFL have successfully created and sold NFTs to their fans. 

With constant news of new NFTs, it may seem like NFTs are a no-brainer for popular brands wanting to experiment with metaverse technology. 

However, we found that 68% of users don’t see the value of owning an NFT. Of those that do see the value in NFTs, 38% said their reasoning was “The potential value [of an NFT] in the future.” 24% said to own a collector’s item of a favorite artist/group and 18% said to participate in an exclusive experience. 

Many early NFT adopters understand the long-term value of these assets, but more education is needed for the bulk of consumers. 

NFT can have tangible value, but brands need to do a better job educating users on what exactly this value is.  

NFTs have five main benefits, which include

1. Create liquidity for historically non-liquid assets.  
2. Make ownership transparent and accessible.
3. Interact more meaningfully with a dedicated fanbase.
4. Create new ways to engage with digital audiences. 
5. Add new digital experiences to existing goods and services.

For instance, imagine a world where your ownership of an NFT gives you the voting rights for the style of the next Nike Airforce One drop in the physical world. 

NFTs Graph2

However, users understand (and love) AR 

While users might not understand a single “the metaverse” or the value of an NFT, they do understand components of the metaverse and how they add value to their lives. 

Consider online shopping. Think with Google found that 66% of people want to use augmented reality (AR) when shopping online and that this kind of engagement can improve conversion rates. 

Snap’s latest AR features transform 2D photos (such as product photography) and turn them into turnkey AR-ready assets for Snapchat AR try-on Lens experiences. The user takes a couple of steps back, the camera snaps their body, and then imposes the clothes onto the static image of the user. 

Augmented reality is metaverse technology, and it’s already here and incredibly sophisticated. It’s a way of bridging real life and the digital one, bringing metaverse opportunities through mobile rather than through a headset or computer screen. 

66percentGraph 1

Engaging with brands in the metaverse? It’s a 50/50 split 

50% of users said that they would engage with a brand in the metaverse. This number aligns with other industry standards, including Statista’s 2021 report that 45% of users do engage with brands via “liking a post from a brand.” 

We followed up with the question, “What would encourage you to engage with a brand?” and the most popular themes were

– Brand affinity
– Exclusive sales/discounts
– Enhanced experiences
– To experience products before purchasing  

Creating a billboard or commercial in the metaverse is one thing. Convincing fans to actively engage with you is another. To successfully do this, brands will need to create a community, offer a discernible benefit, or have an awe-worthy metaverse experience. 

Surprisingly, the top perceived drawback isn’t climate-related 

We asked survey-takers about negative aspects, if any, that might exist in the metaverse.

By far, the number one response was a hypothesized “disconnection from real life,” with 47% of survey takers responding as such. Following that was the potential for trolling/harassment and then misinformation potential at 19% and 17%, respectively. 

Environmental issues? A mere 4% listed it as a top concern. 

Even if our survey said users don’t care, we know that energy consumption issues associated with things like NFTs are a concern for brands. The good news is that blockchain technology isn’t inherently bad for the environment

By using proof of stake instead of proof of work, the energy consumption of blockchain transactions is reduced by about 99%. Today, there are a few platforms that use this kind of validation, the major one being Algorand

For Algorand, sustainability is a core component. As the world’s first pure proof of stake blockchain, the Algorand network is designed to minimally impact the environment. 

Potential Drawbacks Graph

Takeaways for brands 

People might not know what the metaverse is yet, but they love the tech that drives it.

This includes virtual worlds, augmented reality (AR) via filters and cameras, and online communities. As the line between digital and physical continues to blur, these technologies are the best places to start experimenting and investing. 

Approachability and education will be essential.

An average user might not understand your brand’s “metaverse experience” but they do understand a “virtual showroom.” Be clear in your naming conventions so you don’t end up confusing your users.

Create it and they will not come.

To engage with a brand, people want something in return. Sometimes monetary benefits, sometimes exclusivity, sometimes experiences. Creating a successful brand experience will require you to understand your user’s preferences and then deliver. 

The research conducted by DEPT® was distributed to 1,777 users in the United States. Ages 18-68, with a 50/50 gender balance. Completed 5/2/2022. 

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Want to learn more? Get your ticket to the Meta Festival on June 28th.

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Why professional sports are winning Web3

baseball stadium
Imogene Robinson
Imogene Robinson
Marketing Copywriter
Date
31 May 2022

Web3 is a powerful new revenue stream

It represents an all-new era for the internet, characterized by a few foundational new technologies and immersive experiences that include NFTs and the metaverse.

Taken together, they’re set to redefine our interactions and our expectations when it comes to the online world.

Already brands representing fashion, music, art, and more have taken the plunge and embraced Web3 with notable success.

But one industry that’s leading the charge with all things Web3 might be somewhat surprising: professional sports.

Whether it be through NFT collectibles worth as much as $68k or digital versions of historic stadiums powered by Epic Games, professional sports have taken full advantage of what Web3 has to offer with a resounding effect.

That said, what is it that sports are getting right when it comes to NFTs and the metaverse? And what lessons does this impart to other brands?

Embracing what a digital product has to offer

With NFTs in particular, the biggest misconception surrounding them is that you, the user, are paying a small fortune for a JPEG of an image that you could find via a Google search. 

While it is entirely possible for a JPEG to be an NFT, NFTs can also be so much more. 

A prime example of this comes from none other than the NBA’s Top Shot series.

The NBA made the smart decision early on to experiment with the capability of NFTs and deliver a collectible that came with an almost gamified user experience. 

A Top Shot NFT pulls inspiration from collectible trading card games, incorporating an element of reveal by allowing fans to “rip” open a digital pack.

The contents, digital cubes that rotate to reveal the stats and footage from iconic NBA dunks, are all highly watchable. But the moments they feature can be hard to find and collect, with just 0.09% representing the “legendary” moments that have been sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

Through experimentation and gamification, the NBA found major success with NFTs. Within its first five months, Top Shot netted more than $370 million.

They also demonstrated the importance of creating something truly original and taking advantage of the nature of a product that is 100% digital.

baseball stadium

Enriching the relationship with your audience

In the same way that the arrival of social media strengthened the relationship between fans and celebrities, Web3 has the potential to expand and enrich the relationship between customers and brands.

Within the world of sports, special collections of NFTs created by star players can bring their unique trademark closer to a far-reaching fan base. 

In 2021, Tom Brady co-founded Autograph, an NFT platform bringing together “the most iconic brands and legendary names in sports.” Autograph features names like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretsky, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, and Usain Bolt. But each of these legendary athletes is able to stand out in their own right, offering their fans unique NFT collections that speak to their trademark characteristics and personality. 

NFTs don’t necessarily have to come directly from individual athletes to enrich the audience experience either, though.

24H Le Mans Virtual

At DEPT®, we helped launch the NFT collection for the 24H Le Mans Virtual, helping the endurance event become one of the first motorsport brands to do so.

Moreover, the collection featured captures of historic moments from the race as they happened. This served to reward fans who followed the race closely and created a whole new way to interact with the event: by owning a piece of its history.

Finally, it’s not just about NFTs. A whole new avenue to improve the relationship between professional sports brands and their fan bases is being built in the metaverse. 

At the start of this year, the Atlanta Braves opened a fully immersive Digital Truist Park with the blessing of the MLB and powered by Epic Games’s Unreal Engine technology.

The idea behind the virtual stadium was to create a 3D multiplayer experience so that baseball fans could visit Truist Park from their homes and interact with a community of equally passionate folks.

The trend of virtual stadiums seems to be growing, too: another one is in the works for Manchester City, who announced at the end of last year a partnership with Sony to develop a digital version of Etihad Stadium.

Whether it be through NFTs or in the metaverse, the professional sports industry is taking advantage of the opportunities Web3 provides to create exciting new ways for audiences to participate and interact with their favorite brands.

Le mans car

Leaving no one out

At the peak of their hype cycle last year, NFTs earned a reputation that was less than inclusive.

With impossible price tags and a host of misconceptions surrounding them, they appeared to be unattainable luxury commodities sold by and for the rich.

Some misgivings surround the metaverse as well. Since Facebook’s rebrand, the metaverse has become only more talked about. But the vast majority of people have yet to experience it, making the metaverse seem exclusive and even suspicious.  

But with the offerings they’ve created, the professional sports industry has managed to overcome these challenges and find solutions that leave no one feeling left out.

For example, while you can find NFTs worth tens of thousands of dollars on marketplaces like Top Shot and Autograph, you’ll also find the majority of goods are much more reasonably priced. A baseline Autograph NFT will start at just under $80 and starter packs from Top Shot run between $9 and $19. 

Drone racing league marketplace

Another good way of making NFTs more approachable is to use them as free promotional material, which DEPT® helped the Drone Racing League do at Algorand’s 2021 Decipher conference. Attendees received fliers with QR codes they could scan and find which of DRL’s first-ever run of NFTs they had received. The result was an exciting, fun, and low-risk experience for both brand and customer.
 
Price points aren’t the only thing to keep in mind when it comes to NFT marketplaces, the transaction itself is also important. Although interest in cryptocurrency remains high, the vast majority of audiences don’t have crypto wallets set up to pay for NFTs. Offering credit card transactions is therefore essential to make sure that a marketplace is inclusive. 

A great way to do that is by setting up your marketplace using Algomart, which is the software DEPT® used to build the NFT marketplaces for DRL and Le Mans.

Finally, the sports industry is managing to keep the metaverse accessible too. The Atlanta Braves’ digital stadium can be streamed directly to users’ internet browsers. No need for an Oculus Rift or other piece of technology. 

By providing a range of price points, offering credit card transactions, and sticking to the bounds of technology that their audience already has, the sports industry has managed to successfully bring widespread appeal to their Web3 endeavors.

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A major comeback

Our increasingly digital world was ushered in by the pandemic, during which time the in-person nature of sports events forced many to grind to a halt with postponements and cancellations. Games and championships that did continue were played in stadiums filled with cardboard audiences.

The professional sports industry has since learned a powerful lesson. They’ve not only adapted to the digital world–with revolutionary NFT marketplaces and metaverses, they’re poised to evolve as the technology does too.

Now that’s how to win Web3.

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The impact of automation on the future of work

Metaverse 2

Date
30 May 2022
Metaverse 2

By Mark van Rijmenam, Author of The Organisation of Tomorrow and Step into the Metaverse

Automation has great potential for society and it is this promise that makes the future of work so incredibly exciting. In my opinion, automation is one of the three parts that will define the future of work alongside data and decentralization. All three combined have the potential to fundamentally change society and make work better, faster, more efficient – and more humane.

Deploying automated technology

While many organizations are focusing on the low hanging fruit, such as automating call centers or using robotic processing automation, the real potential that AI and machine learning will bring over the years is when organizations start experimenting with it in the way that the big tech firms are currently doing. 

In 10 years from now, we will be automating more complex, strategic tasks. Examples include self-driving cars and fully automated warehouses. We will start to see the results of connecting and automating different processes. We see the beginnings of this process already in the Tesla Gigafactory and the ‘dark factories’ of China. Currently, these fully automated systems are outliers, but we are moving in that direction.

What we can learn from the Gigafactory is that it took Tesla a very long time to achieve the level of automation that they have, but once a company has established an effective system, the benefits are enormous. Businesses can operate their factories more efficiently and effectively. At the start of the pandemic, a number of Chinese factories became dark factories which enabled them to continue to operate despite the lockdowns.

Working alongside robots

Automation will undoubtedly affect the future of how business is done. From a shareholder perspective, businesses will have to find a balance to ensure the benefits to the organization don’t solely end up in the hands of a small group of people. 

In an optimal scenario, automation can enable shorter work hours, fulfilling work and sufficient pay for ordinary workers to make a good living. For this to happen, the benefits of automation need to be shared with everyone in society.

Automation can make work more interesting by taking away a lot of mundane tasks. To take one example, it can enable call centre agents to switch mundane calls for more complex cases, which can be more challenging and interesting for employees. 

Even the creative industries, such as advertising, marketing, and writing, are increasingly finding that automation has a role to play in augmenting the creative process. As an example, when writing Stepping into the Metaverse, I had about 100 interviews and around 150 surveys to complete. I was able to do these fully automated. I switched on an automated system and saw interview invites popping up on my calendar. I then used AI software to transcribe the interviews and another AI tool to summarize the articles I read. I finished the book in three months, which was only possible because of automation.

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Limitless application

Every industry can benefit from automation. It’s about starting small and going from there. For me, automation is like Lego. The only limits to what you can build are your resources, funds and your imagination. You can literally come up with whatever you want to. 

The right question is not what automation could do – because everything is possible – but what should automation do. A lot of work can be automated. The question is: do we want it to be? Overall, I’m optimistic about the potential of automation, but there are downsides to automating whatever we can, wherever we can to save and make money. 

As people, we need meaning in our lives. And we need to ensure that our choices about the future make sense from a social as well as an economic perspective. This issue is going to become an increasingly interesting and relevant debate, and in that respect, automation gets right to the heart of what it means to be human.

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See Mark speak at Meta Festival on 28 June 2022

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See how these 5 brands are diving into web3

Kristin Cronin
Kristin Cronin
Head of Marketing US
Date
11 May 2022

Welcome to web3, a new kind of internet. 

Where web2 was defined by corporate giants, web3 is defined by a host of revolutionary new technologies. From AR and AI to machine learning and blockchain, these technologies have created a wealth of opportunities for decentralization and innovation.

Web3 has the potential to fundamentally change the way that brands and consumers interact with one another. Many brands are already experimenting with NFTs and virtual worlds (aka the metaverse) to drive brand awareness and increase customer loyalty in a way that just isn’t possible through traditional social media or ecommerce channels.

As the lines between the physical and digital world continue to blur, brands have the opportunity to create new business models, forms of commerce, entertainment and more. Let’s look at a few brands that are diving right in. 

H&Mbeyond: A virtual showroom for meaningful exchanges 

H&Mbeyond is the innovation hub of the well-known Swedish fashion company H&M Group. In keeping with the current zeitgeist, H&Mbeyond wanted to expand H&M’s physical showrooms with its first-ever digital showroom.

The brand partnered with DEPT® and Journee to create an immersive space.

Here, a wide variety of target audiences such as influencers and stylists, customers, employees, and the press can learn more about H&M and its collections, including 3D rendered cloth materials and garments animated to simulate the movement of the cutting-edge materials.

“H&M’s Virtual Showroom is designed as a space for brand activations such as fashion campaigns,” said Thorsten Mindermann, Regional Manager H&M Central Europe. “These are brought to life in a whole new and exciting way, combining innovation, digitalization and sustainability.”

H&Mbeyond recognized that for the fashion industry, a virtual showroom offers new ways to bring to life new collections and campaigns. For example, in the “Campaign Room” visitors can get insights from Creative Director Ann-Sofie Johannson and Concept Designer Ella Soccorsi about the design process of the collection and the campaign, as well as the materials used in the clothing.

HM Virtual Showroom Hero Image

The virtual showroom was launched following the introduction of H&M’s first virtual garments in January. The collection was displayed as part of a competition where participants could submit ideas for names for the available looks, and win a chance to “wear” the pieces thanks to 3D graphic designers who would style them in the digital look as an animated image.

With virtual fashion, brands like H&M are making it easy for consumers to express themselves in the digital world just as they would in the physical world. But the big difference is that virtual fashion is wearable for all bodies. “Regardless of size, shape, or gender, digital gartments are size inclusive and tailored for all body types,” said Ann-Sofie Johannson, Creative Advisor, H&M. 

SPIN: NFT commerce at scale

Another area ripe for brands to explore in the web3 world are NFTs. NFTs open up avenues for brands to innovate and let consumers engage with digital ownership and digital collectibles.

For SPIN, whose iconic magazine covers have been a collector’s item since it was first published in 1985, NFTs represent an opportunity to help fans collect these pieces of culture in a new way. 

SPIN owns 36 years of iconic photography, covers, videos, and other rare media. These assets have been appreciated and valued by magazine subscribers for decades. But like many publishers starting to experiment with NFTs, SPIN realized that they could extend the value of their storied intellectual property to even more fans through digital collectibles. 

SPIN partnered with DEPT® to create a carbon-neutral NFT marketplace to sell, auction, and re-sell their covers and other photography assets. In doing so, SPIN became the first major music media brand to make its full content archive available with NFTs. 

SPIN magazine covers

SPIN unveiled its NFT marketplace at SXSW 2022, with an inaugural auction featuring covers of Machine Gun Kelly (which sold for $2,670) and Perry Farrell. Additional covers, as well as art pieces, will be placed up for auction over the course of 2022.

“We’re excited to introduce these famous pieces as NFTs. It’s an easy entry point for fans to begin to collect scarce and coveted digital photography and memorabilia while providing artists a way into the space,” said Jimmy Hutcheson, CEO of SPIN.

Fashion brands: Wearable items for in-game or social experiences

As games and social apps support more creativity and design variation, people are paying for virtual items that signal their character and values, just as they would in the real world.

For most brands, this translates to an opportunity to create wearable items for in-game or social experiences. The biggest opportunities involve partnering with games like Fortnite, Roblox, or League of Legends. These platforms are extremely selective and will work closely with brands to create something that contributes to the gaming experience in a native way.

Brands like Gucci, Nike, Ralph Lauren, Vans and more have jumped on this trend by creating activations in Roblox. 

In 2021 to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Gucci created a “Gucci Garden” in Roblox where players could immerse themselves in different rooms and purchase limited-edition avatar items. Nike launched NIKELAND, a bespoke world with the backdrop of its world headquarters inside Roblox’s immersive 3D space. And more recently, Ralph Lauren created the “Ralph Lauren Winter Escape” world with winter-themed activities and limited-edition items for avatars. 

These experiences work because there is an obvious tie-in with the physical world. The connection between the physical and virtual world is one of the most exciting possibilities that the metaverse brings. Not all Roblox Gucci stans can go to Italy, but they can get the same experience from their living rooms. Putting on celebrations like this online and IRL opens a brand up to new audiences and shows they truly want to be involved in these communities. 

These are just some of the ways that brands have started to embrace and prepare for the third iteration of the internet, which will impact them massively for years to come. The implications for how all brands interact with consumers will be profound. We have the opportunity to build fully immersive, 3D worlds from the ground up and leverage them to develop customer experiences like we’ve never seen before. 

We’ll be exploring these trends at our 24-hour Meta Festival on June 28th. Visit meta-festival.com to learn more and register.

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Kristin Cronin

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Are NFTs bad for the environment?

power lines
Kelsey Anderson
Kelsey Anderson
Sr. Content Marketing Manager
Date
9 May 2022

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are becoming more widespread as web3 technology expands. If you’re a brand with a loyal fanbase, you’re probably curious about how you can leverage NFTs. However, these tokens have a reputation for contributing to emissions and negatively impacting the environment.    

This reputation has caused some backlash from consumers, one example being in the world of K-pop, where labels faced an outcry after launching NFT products.

So, are NFTs bad for the environment? Are there clean ways to mint and sell NFTs? 

If you’re a brand that aligns with climate consciousness, high energy consumption is not something you can simply ignore. But does that mean you have to skip out on NFTs? 

In this post, we’ll dive into NFT’s effect on the environment and whether there are alternatives. 

TL;DR, are NFTs bad for the environment? 

Traditional methods of minting and verifying NFTs are indeed energy-intensive. Most of today’s NFTs live on OpenSea, an Ethereum-based platform that is notorious for consuming energy. In these cases, yes, NFTs are harming the environment. 

However, there are carbon-neutral blockchains on which NFT marketplaces can be built. These operate differently, with minimal energy consumption. If you leverage an NFT marketplace like this, then NFTs can easily be carbon neutral. 

power lines

Some NFT terminology 

Before we dive into the specifics of NFTs and their impact, it’s important to understand a few terms we’ll be throwing around. 

NFT: A non-fungible token. Essentially, this proves ownership of an asset on the blockchain. 

Proof of work: validation method that confirms transactions (including NFT transactions). This method requires a lot of computer processing, which consumes a lot of energy. 

Proof of stake: a different validation method that uses considerably fewer validators. This method requires much less energy. 

Ethereum: An open-source blockchain. Companies can use Ethereum to build digital products. 

OpenSea: The largest NFT marketplace, built on Ethereum.

Traditional NFT platforms  

The first major NFT platform was OpenSea, and today it represents about 60% of bought/sold NFTs. Because OpenSea was the first major platform, users flocked to it. So did brands. 

OpenSea is built on the Ethereum blockchain platform, and Ethereum uses proof of work to validate transactions. 

This is a bit unfortunate because NFTs are not inherently bad for the environment. Rather, proof of work is bad for the environment (there is some nuance to this of course). OpenSea (and most NFTs) just happened to be built on this platform, cascading the impact to NFTs. 

Luckily, alternatives have emerged. Users and brands no longer need to rely on OpenSea and other proof of work platforms. 

trees

Eco-friendly NFT platforms 

By using proof of stake instead of proof of work, the energy consumption of blockchain transactions like buying/selling NFTs is reduced by about 99%

For any brand wanting to leverage NFTs in a sustainable way, you can do so with a proof of stake platform. 

Today, there are a few platforms that use this kind of validation, the major one being Algorand

For Algorand, sustainability is a core component. As the world’s first pure proof of stake blockchain, the Algorand network is designed to minimally impact the environment. Because it’s pure proof of stake, it requires minimal computational power or electricity. Algorand has been a leader in minimizing the environmental impact of blockchain technology. 

Brands can quickly build and launch their own NFT marketplace on the Algorand blockchain using the open-source project Algomart. Algomart is a carbon-negative, white-label solution that is fully customizable for brands, created by the engineering team here at DEPT®. 

It’s also important to call out that Ethereum is in the process of what it calls “The Merge”, where the current Ethereum Mainnet will merge with the beacon chain proof of stake system. This will complete the transition to proof of stake for Ethereum, set to finish later this year. According to Ethereum, this will “start the era of a more sustainable, eco-friendly Ethereum.” If all goes according to plan, this should be a big step in helping brands gain more confidence in experimenting with NFTs without having to sacrifice their sustainability goals. 

The bottom line is this. NFTs are not the emission-heavy technology that they’re often painted as. It wholly depends on the technology underpinning their transactions. By using carbon-neutral technology, any brand can mint, sell, and re-sell NFTs without going against their principles.  

To learn more about NFTs, and levering eco-friendly tech, reach out to the web3 team at DEPT®. 

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How to survive & thrive in Web3

women wearing vr goggles

Date
20 April 2022

Below are top takeaways from a panel conversation from the recent DEPT® event, ‘Web3: A new era for the Internet’.

To view the full discussion, scroll to the bottom of this page or watch the YouTube replay here.

web3 panel

Meet your panel

This panel features a discussion between Tobias Cummins, Director at DEPT® alongside four Web3 experts

  • Paula Marie Kilgarriff, Web3.0 consultant
  • Mike Charalambous, CEO of Threedium
  • Stefania Barbaglio, founder at Cassiopeia Services
  • Tim Walther, Metaverse & NFT at Volkswagen Group

Below, many Web3 topics are discussed, including how to prepare for Web3, what the metaverse will look like, and how brands can dive in.

Where should brands begin? 

Paula Marie Kilgarriff: In fashion/retail, the web3 space is basically a 3D virtual shopping experience, so what I say to brands is that you need to create 3D assets and prepare your website for 3D. 

When I say virtual stores, I don’t mean VR and headsets. Use your web browser to interact with a website that has 3D objects. These 3D objects give customers an opportunity to co-create certain kinds of products online.

Mike Charalambous: I couldn’t agree more. We’re actually more of a web2.5 advocate. The reason being is that most brands and agencies have revenue tied to their e-commerce shops.

A steady system needs to be shored up before your start to get your hands dirty with 3D. 3D is not your standard photography. They have their own lighting environment and their own behavior.

So once brands understand the techniques of 3D objects and how different commerce solutions use 3D, then AR product explorers can innovate and trigger specific consumer behaviors. This allows them to gather data and test them on avatars.

What are the key areas of readiness for Web3? 

Tim Walther: In general, you have to dig deep into web3. You have to be aware of what is happening in this space because it is so different from web2. 

Customers for your NFT/experience will be a lot different from customers of the past. In the past, you might have fans to which you’re speaking, but now (if you’re selling an NFT), you might have a small shareholder. 

To do it right you must have a working roadmap, inroads in place to speak to your communities, and an understanding of how the communities interact with web3. The risk of doing something wrong is big.

To test/learn, find good partners that have a proven record. Learn from them and only then take a bigger step forward.

Is Web3 relevant for some brands more than others? 

Stefania Barbaglio: Yes, I think not only fashion but the entire luxury market. Jewelry, cars, drinks, etc. Anything that needs a way to authenticate could benefit from blockchain technologies. Even the secondary market, so buyers can verify that their purchases are authentic. 

Tim Walther:  If you look back one year, NFTs were more or less digital images and pieces of art that are connected to the blockchain. In the past year, others have shown us what can happen with a smart contract.

If you connect this to a smart contract, then an NFT can become a community. It can become a key or a one-on-one relationship with your brand. 

I’m certain that things will show up in the next month or years that we cannot even imagine at the moment.

The metaverse is the era where humans put equal ownership on digital goods as they do on physical goods.

Mike Charalambous. Threedium

What’s the current state of the Metaverse?

Paula Marie Kilgarriff: I would stay away from saying “the one metaverse.” What we’re doing is using technology to create 3D virtual experiences that encourage co-creation and customization.

If you think of it recently, some metaverses are centralized, some decentralized, some have tokens, some don’t have tokens, some are VR, and some are AR.

You might have a luxury metaverse or mass-market one, one for retail and another for lifestyle and entertainment.  

Brands are figuring out customer touchpoints and journeys and fortifying them with different types of technology. It’s really about augmenting, not replacing other experiences.

The true value of 3D objects is the ability to understand what the customer wants when they want and how they want it.

Mike Charalambous: The most important thing is that metaverse can be anything you want it to be. 

Here’s my way of breaking it down: 

The metaverse is the era where humans put equal ownership on digital goods as they do on physical goods. 

It’s not a butterfly-unicorn-cloudy world you go into to dance and fly. 

It’s the era where consumers shift their behaviors, and they’re ready to start spending money to own something digitally, knowing that ownership can unlock different levels of rewards and accessibility for them. 

Anyone has the chance to create something. Anyone has the chance to be wherever they want to be. Basically, the metaverse world will act as new means of social media channels. 

So always think of the metaverse world as a social commerce channel, where people are going to be interacting with brands in different ways. We’re going to be seeing new KPIs, such as play to earn, wear to earn or sweat to earn. We’re going to be seeing a different way in how influencers and ambassadors find value–not as to how they look (beautiful faces or slim bodies) but what kind of contributions they’re making to the space.

And metaverse and NFTs don’t necessarily have to go together. NFTs are the form of a CRM for the brand, a form of utility. They unlock or enhance your relationship. NFT’s are just the means to the end, an additional way to provide rewards and a stronger sense of ownership for their customers.

Any brand that does not understand this is going to be losing market share starting from now. 

It’s like the early days of social media, with smaller platforms vs Facebook. Facebook came in and crushed everybody. So there might be a metaverse world where it’s going to prevail and have massive volume versus everybody else.

But there will also be some micro-verses that are more specialized.

What are your Web3 cautionary tales?

Mike Charalambous: From the brand side, there are two major things.

1. Financial pitfalls when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrency
2. The fact that taxation is not addressed within this full metaverse ecosystem

That makes life hard for brands to synthesize robust commercial strategies. And this forces them to spend a lot of money on tax consultations. They’re afraid that their public image might be impacted if somebody if they do something in the metaverse.

Consumer-facing, what they’re very much afraid of is ensuring that there’s going to be longevity in my relationship with the brand. How do I ensure that this token gives me that utility in real life?

They have a lack of confidence that the brands are ready to sustain and feed these relationships in perpetuity. 

What are you most excited about?

Paula Marie Kilgarriff: Web3 and web3 protocols for the fashion supply chain. 

So it could be Zara presenting a new collection to its stakeholders and then they vote on which products are made in that supply chain in real-time. 

Stefania Barbaglio: Avatars and digital identities. There will be a different way to look at influences. The community can influence brands on what kind of influencers are selected. 

Tim Walther: It’s really the community. And that also, that really means the web3 community. How are you solving X problem? That’s not happening a lot in marketing, but we’re all in the same boat. 

What I love about the technology is that it is unleashing some creativity in marketing and in communication that we haven’t had in years. Social media 2.0 was very cool, very interesting, and unleashed a lot of things, but now we have something where we can basically add every, any utility.

And that leads me to the third and last point, which is you able to get closer to your customer. You can get brands and customers one-on-one. A real relationship. 

Mike Charalambous: What we’re focusing on a lot is this notion of connected commerce or meta commerce.

How we can take assets, create them once, but sell them thrice across physical, digital, and the metaverse with consistent experiences.

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5 questions brands should ask about NFTs

nft questions to ask
Jesse Streb
Jesse Streb
Global SVP, Engineering & Technology
Date
29 March 2022
digital art nft concept

Did you know the first NFT was created in 2015? 

Yep, it took less than five years for NFTs to reach worldwide notoriety. And since then, the market for NFTs has exploded, with folks either loving them or rejecting the idea altogether. 

Because of the polarization that NFTs have caused, it can be difficult for businesses to confidently participate in the NFT world. 

Fortunately, we’ve planned, created, and released many NFT marketplaces, and understand both the strategic and tactical considerations surrounding them. 

There are five essential questions every leader must evaluate before starting down the path of NFT creation. 

1. What is the state of the NFT market?
2. Should my brand leverage this new technology? 
3. What makes a good NFT experience? 
4. Are NFT’s bad for the environment? 
5. Do users need to buy NFTs using Crypto? 

Below, our team helps you answer these essential NFT questions.

What’s the state of the NFT market?

OpenSea is the world’s largest NFT marketplace, valued at $13bn. In fact, OpenSea traded $5bn worth of NFTs in January 2022. 

There’s just one problem. In that same month, OpenSea admitted that 80% of NFTs created for free on its platform were either plagiarized from other artists or spam.

This leads us to the unfortunate reality of NFTs: a lot of harmful activity, primarily around “Crypto Bros” trying to inflate prices and promote schemes that offer little or no value beyond basic computer-generated digital art. A lot of these are very much “get rich quick” ideas which are often likened to Ponzi schemes.

But amongst the noise, there are real NFT projects that are thriving. This is especially true of digital fashion and unique collectibles.

At the end of the day, it’s the projects that offer the best utility for the NFT that will succeed–the perks, experiences, and opportunities that are unlocked by owning one. 

One final thing to bear in mind – governments are looking to regulate the NFT markets, i.e., starting to treat them as commodities that can be taxed. It’s essential to stay up to date on the regulations around crypto and NFTs to take full advantage. 

nike swish

Should my brand leverage this new technolgoy?

Whether your brand could benefit from NFTs depends on many things–your industry, audience, ideas, and execution. 

Generally, any brand with intellectual property or collectibles that an end-user would find valuable can experiment with NFTs. The same goes for brands offering exclusivity. 

To give you an idea, here are the industries that have been successful in creating value around NFTs. 

Intellectual property & collectibles 

Notably, NBA TopShot drove over $700m in NFT sales since its launch, which provides users a chance to “‘own the moment” by selling motion graphics of top NBA players in games.

And Dapper Labs and Socios have created a variety of sports league and team-related NFTs. Digital cards or videos clips are bought in the same way that children once collected stickers or baseball cards.

Fashion

Fashion has been a great driver of NFT innovation given the possession-based nature of the industry and people wishing to constantly try new digital outfits and looks. This industry is only going to grow. Plus NFTs also allow fractional ownership of high-worth fashion – be it real-world or digital creations. They allow consumers to buy, sell and trade items, and creators to get residual benefits via smart contracts.

For industry leaders, look to Gucci and Nike. 

Gucci was the first high-end fashion brand to engage with NFTs when they sold a four-minute movie for $25,000. And Nike recently announced their acquisition of RTFKT, a virtual shoe company that makes NFT sneakers for the metaverse

Gaming and fashion in gaming

NFT as possessions in virtual worlds and video games is also a growth market, but a lot of NFT value comes from their utility. Think skins, loot boxes, and access to secret spaces. These possessions can elevate a gaming experience in many ways. 

Fashion within gaming is another noteworthy opportunity. Many of the fashion industry’s collaborations have been with Fortnite, Roblox, and other gaming platforms. 

Events

Arenas, artists, or event planners that are in the business of selling tickets to experiences can benefit by creating NFTs that complement the fan experience. This could be collector items or in-person perks. 

Coachella is a great example. They currently offer NFTs on their site that falls into these two categories 1. A lifetime Coachella pass wth exclusive benefits and 2. Never-before-seen photography from past Coachellas. 

A final benefit for events is the ability to combat ticking fraud. Anyone buying a ticket on a secondary market can see if it’s real via the blockchain. 

Brands with megafans

Brands that have megafans and go out of their way to engage with them are also a potential market. This could be musicians, artists, celebrities, restaurants, and even consumer goods (Coca-Cola, for example). Giving megafans special perks via NFTs can be a great way to promote loyalty. 

Some brands and industries lend themselves naturally to NFTs more than others, but it’s best to do an NFT workshop to determine whether your brand could benefit from NFTS and if they will be well-received. 

What makes a good NFT experience?

It depends who you ask!

Unless you are selling art or digital fashion, the experience is all about what the NFT can be used for. How you define this, depends on your brand and how you wish to activate it.

NFTs can be a ticket to experiences, exclusivity, and community–both online and off. 

If you want to cultivate meaningful, long-term relationships with your audience, then the strategy behind the NFTs’ utility is paramount. Of course, this strategy starts with your users and their desires. 

When thinking about creating the most impactful experiences, we always look at the motivations of the people who will be experiencing them.

For example, do people own extremely popular NFTs because they like the exclusivity and events it brings them (Intrinsic motivation), or do they own them because they hope to sell them one day for a lot of money (extrinsic motivation)?

Our recommendation is to focus on the intrinsic value for the consumer. What is a person getting out of the experience? Is it enjoyable? Do they get personal value from it?

Gary Vaynerchuk is involved in a new seafood restaurant that sold 1501 NFTs to raise $15m. According to their site, “This token represents your ownership of membership to our private dining club,” creating both exclusivity and a community of patrons.

Here’s why they decided on creating an NFT experience over a traditional membership. 

“As an NFT, the membership becomes an asset to the token holder, which can later be sold, transferred or leased to others on the secondary market.” 

listening to music outside

Are NFTs bad for the environment?

Currently, the computer power needed to create an NFT is high. Proof of Work networks such as Ethereum can use more than 20kgs of CO2 to mint one NFT. Layer 2 networks such as Polygon have reduced the cost and environmental impact of minting, but issues remain.

Such waste has caused a huge backlash from some consumers, not least in the world of K-pop, where labels faced an outcry after launching NFT products.

Luckily, there are carbon neutral or negative platforms emerging, like Algorand, which will allow companies to offer NFTs without the negative effects. 

If you’re interested in environmentally-friendly NFTs for your brand, we recommend using Algomart. Algomart is a carbon-negative, white label solution that is fully customizable for brands, created by the engineering team here at DEPT. 

Do users need to buy NFTs using Crypto? 

Nope. 

Traditionally, users have needed to use something like Coinbase to convert USD into cryptocurrency before purchasing NFTs. For many users, this is a huge hurdle. 

However, today, brands can overcome this conflict by using a platform like Algomart. 

Algomart blends web2 payments with web3 NFTs, i.e., allows you to sell NFTs with standard currency via credit card transactions. 

Businesses don’t need a separate crypto-wallet either. There are custodial wallets that hold deposits and allow you to transfer the money in and out.  Algomart simplifies interactions with the blockchain and uses Circle’s payment solutions. Not only can you create an NFT “store,” it takes care of the seemingly-complex payment systems. 

This technology means that any brand can create and start selling NFTs to their users–whether they know a lot about cryptocurrency or not. 

Getting started with NFTs

If you want to explore how NFTs might add value to your brand, we recommend starting with a discovery workshop. During this, we can help you understand whether NFTs are right for your brand, what kind of value you can provide, and the logistics of creating your first NFTs. 

Reach out to chat with our team. 

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The first open-source platform for creating your own NFT marketplace

nft concept
Ashley Streb
Ashley Streb
Chief Client Officer, DEPT® Americas
Date
18 November 2021
Algomart header 1

We’ve been working on this with the folks at Algorand for a while now and, today, we’re psyched to announce the development of what we’ve been calling “AlgoMart.”

AlgoMart is an open source platform for creating your own NFT marketplace, built by us on top of the Algorand blockchain.

The most exciting thing about this project, however, is that it’s the first of its kind. No one has released a solution for businesses to be able to create their own NFTs on their own, without the paid assistance of third party companies.

And, frankly, that’s really kind of shocking. Because the NFT biz is booming. Sales for NFTs soared 20-fold within a year, from $13.7 million in the first half of 2020 to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021. The value of of these digital assets is undeniable, and more and more businesses are looking to take advantage of what they can offer.

“NFTs exploded this year as many of the world’s top brands realized the role the digital assets can play in a diverse set of applications. A missing component, however, has been a straightforward way to launch a marketplace to leverage the benefits of these unique digital assets,” said David Markley, the director of business solutions at Algorand.

NFTs represent an exciting new means for businesses to cultivate a relationship with their customers by providing an experience that is both of the current cultural moment as well as exciting and unique.

The problem is, as Markley says, that the process of actually creating NFTs is less than easy. The options available are limited and, moreover, require businesses to create their NFTs within the boundaries of a predetermined, fixed user experience that the businesses in question don’t get to control for themselves.

We recognized the need to lower the barrier to entry to allow brands to take charge of their digital assets and how their users ultimately engage with them.
AlgoMart is an open source project provides core modules that can be used out of the box and enable brands to easily create new models and experiences, whether that’s engaging with customers through auctions for digital collectibles, creating NFTs to engage with gamers in the metaverse, offering something redeemable in the real-world, or blending physical and digital experiences to create one that’s, well, awesome.

It’s also built on top of Algorand’s technology. Their blockchain is one of the most environmentally friendly out there. It’s also highly scalable and features some pretty low-cost transaction fees. Win, win, win.

Finally, the development and deployment experiences use infrastructure like Terraform and Docker to make it as easy as possible for brands to get started. The added bonus of integrated payments through Circle (another Rocket client!) also makes things easy. Circle payments allow users to skip the complexities of creating and managing wallets, so that they can use a credit card or bank account just like any other ecommerce transaction.

“People want to engage with digital ownership and digital collectibles,” said Jesse Streb, founding partner here at Rocket. “NFTs represent better monetization for creators and a more intimate connection with consumers, all while providing more financial utility to the owners. At the end of the day, it’s a fundamentally better distribution method that brands can leverage to generate new and increased value. Our NFT marketplace provides a more flexible, energy-efficient and usable infrastructure for brands to be able to take advantage of the massive opportunities that exist within NFTs.”

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