Walmart appears to be venturing into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and a collection of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
The big retailer filed several new trademarks late last month signaling its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home décor, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, Walmart said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as NFTs.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart filed the applications on December 30.
In total, seven separate applications have been filed.
In a statement, Walmart said it is “continuously exploring how emerging technologies can shape future shopping experiences.” He declined to comment on the specific trademark filings.
“We are testing new ideas all the time,” the company added. “Some ideas become products or services that reach customers. And some of us test them, iterate and learn.”
″[The presentations are] super intense,” said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney. “There is a lot of language in these, which shows that there is a lot of planning behind the scenes about how they are going to approach cryptocurrency, how they are going to approach the metaverse and the virtual world that seems to be coming. or that is already here.”
Gerben said that ever since Facebook announced it would change its company name to Meta, signaling its ambitions beyond social media, companies have been scrambling to figure out how they will fit into a virtual world.
Nike filed a series of trademark applications in early November that anticipated its plans to sell virtual branded shoes and clothing. Later that month, he said that he would partner with Roblox to create an online world called Nikeland. In December, he bought virtual sneaker company RTFKT (pronounced “artifact”) for an undisclosed amount.
“All of a sudden everyone is saying, ‘This is getting super real and we need to make sure our intellectual property is protected in space,'” Gerben said.
Gap also started selling NFTs of its iconic logo hoodies. The clothing maker said its NFTs will be priced in tiers ranging from roughly $8.30 to $415, and will come with a physical hoodie.
Elsewhere, NFT debuts from Under Armor and Adidas sold out last month. They are now fetching sky-high prices on the OpenSea NFT market.
Gerben said clothing retailers Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch have also filed trademarks in recent weeks detailing their intention to open some kind of virtual store.
A CB Insights report outlined some of the reasons why retailers and brands might want to pursue such ventures, which can potentially offer new revenue streams.
The launch of NFT makes it possible for companies to “tokenize” physical products and services to help reduce online transaction costs, he said. And for luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, NFTs can serve as a form of authentication for more expensive, tangible goods, CB Insights noted.
Gerben said that as more consumers become more familiar with the metaverse and the items stored on the blockchain, more retailers will want to create their own ecosystem around it.
According to Frank Chaparro, director of crypto information services firm The Block, many retailers are still reeling from the e-commerce lag, so they don’t want to miss out on the metaverse.
“I think it’s beneficial for any retail company,” Chaparro said. “And even if it turns out to be a fad, there’s not a lot of reputational damage to just trying something weird like giving some customers an NFT in a giveaway, for example.”