After more than a year of hype (followed by hype fatigue), experts and practitioners are split on whether the metaverse and Web3 will have a meaningful impact on the retail industry. Nearly half (49%) of global CEOs in a 2022 PwC survey said that technology disruptors like AI, the metaverse and blockchain will impact profitability over the next 10 years. As a result, 32% of companies planned to hire a “metaverse leader,” while 51% already had designated roles focused on metaverse activity.
Now, as news headlines spotlight layoffs, defunct projects and organizational restructuring plans, some organizations are putting their robust Web3 plans on an indefinite pause. However, many experts and brand executives are more bullish about the longevity and potential impact of these cutting-edge technologies, and they’re venturing to Chicago for the D2 Summit: Retail Edition to share how their organizations are integrating the metaverse, digital collectibles, AR/XR and other Web3 technologies to create richer customer experiences.
The D2 Summit: Retail Edition is a co-located conference at the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo, which is taking place June 13-15, 2023 in Chicago. It’s designed to dig into the new channels and technologies driving the future of connected commerce. The D2 Summit will ladder up to this central mission, with its sessions answering key questions surrounding Web3, such as:
Q: Is it possible to humanize digital experiences?
A big argument surrounding the metaverse and virtual communities like Roblox is that they make interpersonal connection feel, well, impersonal. Because they happen in a digital environment, they are perceived as less authentic and meaningful. During the opening keynote for the D2 Summit: Retail Edition, Frances Yu, the US and Global Lead for Unlimited Reality at Deloitte’s XR and Spatial Computing practice, will share how brands can actually use AI, XR and Web3 to make digital more human by creating unified experiences rooted in personal human connection.
Q: How can I tell if Web3 really makes sense for my brand?
This is certainly a loaded question and will require a lot of thought and careful analysis within your team. But one panel discussion is designed to at least get these critical internal conversations started: Heritage vs. Emerging Brands – How to Ensure Successful Web3 Execution will dig into how three different companies — Beauty Magnet, Liquid Death and PUMA — have ventured into the world of Web3 by remaining true to their brand roots.
Whether you’re part of a legacy organization looking to test new engagement methods or you’re driving innovation for an emerging brand, you’ll walk away with practical advice and guidance to help you thoughtfully build and execute a Web3 strategy that includes new activations, collections and experiences.
If brands want to go to the next level with their efforts, they can also check out a panel discussion featuring Meral Arik, Co-founder at Passage Protocol; Gmoney, CEO of 9dcc and Admit One, a crypto-native luxury house and lifestyle platform using Web3 tech to gamify user experiences; and Devon Nagy, Director of Emerging Technology at Diageo, who has launched notable Web3 brand activations across Diageo’s portfolio, including work across Johnnie Walker, Don Julio and Crown Royal. Together, they’ll discuss how to redefine user experiences and drive meaningful engagement by embracing new Web3 technologies.
Q: How can Web3 integrate into our broader business strategy?
Once executives decide they want to venture into the world of Web3, they should ensure that they can integrate these projects and initiatives thoughtfully into their broader business strategies. For example, Sidi Drissi, Global President for bareMinerals and BUXOM will share why and how the brand created BUXOM PlumpVerse. During this session, attendees will learn about how the company partnered with Publicis Sapient to design an experience that spoke to the brand’s DNA and baked in a longer-term vision for digital innovation.
Attendees also will be able to learn how they can use Web3 insights to inform and support broader ecommerce experience design. The key to CX success is seamlessness, and different metaverse platforms and Web3 technologies may ultimately make consumer interactions feel clunky or disjointed. A session featuring Steven Moy, CEO of Barbarian, and Claudine Patel, CMO of Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, will dig into how digital teams can use first-party data to augment their strategies.
Finally, several sessions will reveal how Web3 can support brands in their quest to solidify customer loyalty. Some brands, such as Starbucks and Nike, are using Web3 as a vehicle to reimagine their loyalty strategies. During their session, How Blockchain Unlocks New Customer Connections and Community Experiences, executives from Kigo will reveal their vision for Open Loyalty, which allows brands to leverage digital assets to create new experiences that are shareable, personalized and collaborative. Then, executives from Wow Bao and Mattel will discuss how their brands are embracing collectibles and community to drive loyalty innovation.
Q: Which technologies will shape the future of digital innovation?
Apple’s official launch of its Vision Pro headset is just the latest in what’s bound to be many more hardware releases. Similarly, ChatGPT is only the latest of many other new apps and software programs that will disrupt the retail landscape. Change is happening fast, and retail executives need to know which technologies will shape the future of their industry.
During a dynamic panel discussion, experts will redefine retail’s next decade, discussing everything from virtual beings and gaming to generative AI. Participants include #RICE23 Co-chair, author and metaverse expert Cathy Hackl; Deborah Weinswig, Founder and CEO of Coresight Research; Brian Trunzo, Head of Business Development – North America for Polygon Labs; and Tobin McComas, VP of Development and Member Services at Chamber of Digital Commerce.
Attendees also will be able to see how one brand is keeping tabs on new technologies and leaning into ongoing experimentation. David Lehman, Digital Director at Coach, will share how the heritage brand is finding substance in the metaverse (yes, you read that right). As tech, media and retail converge, Coach has done some fascinating work in elevating the brand through the creative use of new technologies.
Q: How do we get started with Web3?
While the entire program will be designed to offer tactical tips and best practices from brand leaders, sometimes the hardest question to answer is: How do we get started? Katy Brady, Head of Next Gen DTC Connections and Innovation for PepsiCo, will share the brand’s forward-thinking approach to Web3 technology and how it integrates into the entire portfolio of brands.
The team’s primary objective is to establish direct connections with consumers, fostering exceptional experiences with PepsiCo brands through groundbreaking ideas, cutting-edge technology and strategic partnerships. The presentation will delve into how PepsiCo effectively onboards its brands into the next generation of the internet and technology, paving the way for a more connected and engaging future.
Want to join these and other innovative executives in Chicago next week? There’s still time to register and join thousands of your peers to dig into all things connected commerce. Register for an All-Access Pass to get access to the D2 Summit: Retail Edition and deep-dive tracks covering omnichannel strategy, customer loyalty, digital growth channels, store design and more.