Lowe’s is all over the news today, for their corporate announcement of NFTs and “metaverse assets.”
Not to mince words, I have no idea what they’re talking about. I understand what NFTs are, and what brands and popular media think the metaverse is about, but I don’t understand what Lowe’s is actually doing here, or why.
Let’s pick apart the announcement. There’s a lot of corporate PR speak in the quoted segments, so feel free to skip those if you’re inclined, and go back if you want the full details.
It starts off with a bold headline:
LOWE’S TO HELP BUILDERS CREATE A NEW WORLD OF POSSIBILITY INSIDE THE METAVERSE
Okay. So Lowe’s is aiming to help builders with this metaverse stuff.
Lowe’s Opens its 3D Product Library Making More than 500 Assets Available for Free to Virtual and Augmented Reality Developers
Wait, did they mean builders as in pros and home builders, or as in augmented reality developers?
Lowe’s has been at the forefront of building in the real world for more than 100 years and today announced it will begin helping builders of the metaverse create new possibilities. Rather than entering the metaverse with a storefront to sell virtual goods, Lowe’s aims to equip builders free of charge with items from its real-world shelves to make their creations more beautiful, more useful and more inspiring.
Ah, they seek to help builders of the metaverse.
Lowe’s explicitly says they’re NOT talking about entering the metaverse with a storefront to sell virtual goods, which makes sense. What kinds of virtual goods would Lowe’s even be selling?
They will equip [digital metaverse] builders free of charge with items from its real-world shelves.
To start, Lowe’s will make more than 500 3D product assets available for download for free via Lowe’s Open Builder, a new asset hub designed to be available to all creators, addressing key challenges of interoperability and accessibility.
Ah, so they’re introducing Lowe’s Open Builder, a new asset hub – which basically sounds like a digital file repository. The goal is to address key challenges of interoperability and accessibility. I don’t know what this means.
Will this be like CAD files of the type that many brands, companies, and industrial parts suppliers – such as McMaster Carr – have been providing for free for years and years? Unfortunately, from the sound of it, that doesn’t match up with their goal.
So what will this be, digital throw pillows?
For added inspiration, Lowe’s will also release a limited NFT wearable collection* for builders in Decentraland** to the first 1,000 participants starting to outfit their avatars in boots, hardhats, and other accessories. The NFTs will be accessible via a free airdrop to users who have linked a MetaMask wallet*.
OH BOY! A limited NFT wearable collection!! Isn’t that exactly what everybody has been wanting Lowe’s to devote time, talent, and resources to.
Many of us are still waiting for Lowe’s to make good on the website user experience upgrades they promised back in 2020. But isn’t it great they’re releasing NFT wearables for “builders in Decentraland”? What about improving the customer experience for real-world builders and shoppers?
Is anyone lining up for Lowe’s limited collection of NFT boots, hardhats, and accessories for their avatars?
“We’ve been at the forefront of building since the beginning, and the metaverse is in a pivotal stage of development. It’s only natural that we would be interested in working alongside and in service of the emerging community of builders creating this new world, with the democratization of possibility in mind,” said Marisa Thalberg, Lowe’s chief brand and marketing officer. “At the same time, we are also very clear on our reason for being – to make homes better for all by helping our customers to create real world value in their homes, in their jobs and in their communities. This will continue to be our North Star in the metaverse.”
Lowe’s has the “democratization of possibility in mind.” I don’t know what this means – can someone please explain this to me?
But don’t worry, Lowe’s is also very clear on their reason for being – to make homes better for all by helping their customers to create real world value in their homes, in their jobs, and in their communities. And how will this metaverse involvement and NFT help that?
This reminds me of the time, a long time ago, when someone from Craftsman and Sears wanted to run some ideas by me for feedback. Back when Sears was still relevant, and they were thinking of establishing 3D printing centers at Sears’ stores tool departments. I told them that their hands-on Craftsman tool innovation demo displays were always unmanned and broken, and that maybe it would be a better place to focus their efforts.
The efforts are born of a vision for the future in which Lowe’s sees both virtual and augmented worlds playing a role in its customers’ everyday lives. While this is the company’s first step into the metaverse, Lowe’s has been using emerging technology to help customers gain inspiration and more easily visualize and plan their home improvement projects for years. Offerings like the recently launched Measure Your Space, which uses LiDAR to sense depth and map dimensions of a space, and Holoroom How To, which was one of the first home improvement virtual reality clinics and taught customers how to tile a shower in a fully immersive virtual environment, are prime examples. Through its intentional experimentation and focus on delivering what customers need, Lowe’s is uniquely positioned to leverage emerging technology to help people imagine the possibilities.
This part makes sense, but I don’t quite agree with the contexts.
Lowe’s sees a future where both virtual and augmented worlds play a role in its customers’ everyday lives.
Virtual and augmented technologies can be helpful, such as for seeing how a product might fill in a real-world space. Imagine holding your phone for a simulated view of how a new chair might look in your living room. A visualization can be more helpful than masking tape depicting measurements, and it’s not always easy to craft a mock-up using cardboard.
Experimentation in this space can be good, and I’m curious about what their “Holoroom How To” shower tiling virtual clinic is like.
However, brands have been doing things like this for years. Well before NFTs and metaverse talk existed, Lincoln Electric had virtual reality welding trainers.
“Over the past several years, we have infused new technologies into the planning and shopping experience and know our customers have benefitted greatly from being able to explore and test home improvement projects in the virtual world before taking the leap to implementation in their real-world homes or job sites,” said Seemantini Godbole, chief information officer of Lowe’s. “By entering the metaverse now, we can explore new opportunities to serve, enable and inspire our customers in a way no other home improvement retailer today is doing.”
Lowe’s says they have infused new technologies into the planning and shopping experience. Like what?
Have ANY of you “tested home improvement projects in the virtual world?”
Lowe’s is entering the metaverse now, so that they can explore new opportunities to serve, enable, and inspire their customers in a way no other home improvement retailer today is doing.
Just because Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and other home improvement retailers aren’t offering limited NFT avatar wearables and “metaverse assets,” that doesn’t mean Lowe’s is at the front and others far behind.
3D assets that will be available include such items as lighting, patio furniture, area rugs, kitchen and bath accessories, and décor accents and will be usable across metaverse and non-metaverse environments, such as gaming, augmented reality and creative design.
Oh, okay, so this is basically like IKEA’s “IKEA PLACE” app where you can virtually place true-to-scale furnishings in your space, including sofas, lamps, rugs, and tables.
They want these 3D assets to be available to gaming environments as well? That could be interesting.
Assets could be leveraged by metaverse builders making virtual land, homes, goods and experiences for a myriad of decentralized communities.
I am sure that metaverse builders will be thrilled to hear that they can finally add a Lowe’s patio set to their virtual home.
Custom, wearable NFTs will focus on the outfitting of metaverse builders, rewarding and incentivizing these critical pioneers to engage with Lowe’s as they work to deliver positive, inclusive experiences for all of this in this new frontier.
Positive, inclusive experiences for all in this new frontier. How do you go from “free digital home décor models” to “positive, inclusive experiences?”
Starting today, users can visit LowesOpenBuilder.com to access and download Lowe’s 3D product assets and NFT.LowesOpenBuilder.com through July 20, 2022 to link their MetaMask wallet and sign up for our airdrop. Available while supplies last. The first 1,000 participants will be able to claim one of Lowe’s limited NFT wearables.
I am so happy that I can add this Lowe’s allen + roth Fairway Oaks black frame with brown woodgrain steel dining bench to my virtual home.
Lowe’s says that you will need a cryptocurrency MetaMask Wallet in order to claim the free NFTs virtual wearables.
All that said, I have just one question: How does this help me as a Lowe’s customer?!
Exploration into new technologies is not a bad thing, and there could be some potential benefits in what Lowe’s is doing here.
But what’s the benefit for Lowe’s shoppers and customers here? What will limited NFT virtual wearables and “Decentraland” furniture and home décor models going to provide, aside from mass media articles sharing about “Lowe’s entering the metaverse.”
Maybe something was lost in the announcement, and that corporate and marketing language buried what is actually a brilliant and helpful initiative. I try to be open-minded and optimistic, but I’m really having trouble seeing it.
Lowe’s never announced changes to their military discount and appliance return policies, or that veterans and service members lose their military discount entirely when they convert to an MVP user account. But this NFT and metaverse news makes the cut?
Lowe’s has entered the metaverse!! So what?!