How avatars are making their way into the retail industry
Interview: Nastassja Lotz (exclusively for EuroCIS.mag)
Avatars are not just digital images of ourselves, but a new form of virtual identity. They enable us to move around in digital spaces and thus create new experiences in an environment rich in innovation. Düsseldorf-based 3D technology company doob shows what opportunities this also creates for retailers.
CEO Sebastian Böhm talks to us about transformed shopping experiences, new communication channels and the technology behind it all.
How can avatars be used in retail?
Sebastian Böhm: With our 3D avatar scanner, we offer an extraordinary customer experience at the point of sale. Having your own avatar that truly looks like you is something very special and generates enthusiasm among young and old alike. Anyone can easily have themselves scanned in 3D. This is great fun for customers and opens unimagined opportunities for lasting customer loyalty.
What advantages do avatars offer retailers or brands in the retail sector?
Böhm: Having your own lifelike avatar evokes emotions and is readily shared among friends and on social media. The avatar tells stories that are associated with the respective brand and emotionally enrich it.
The avatar products can be custom developed to perfectly convey the brand message in style and storytelling. We also create an extraordinary appeal, which ensures more frequency in the retail sector and opens new target groups. Especially the so-called generations Y and Z attach great importance to their own “digital presence”, in which the avatar plays a central role as a representative in online communities and the digital worlds of experience.
Why are avatars also important for consumers?
Böhm: The lifelike avatar is an expression of one’s own personality, whether in everyday communication in messaging apps or in social media. The avatar lets us express things in a different manner and tell stories in an exciting new way. It lets us try things out, experience them, and share them with others.
As our lives become increasingly digital, so will e-commerce. The avatar will help us make purchasing decisions, for example, by answering not only the question of whether an item “fits” me, but also whether it “suits” me. Virtual try-on is a key avatar application in tomorrow’s e-commerce.
Coming together in person – no matter from which starting point
doob creates avatars, but also offers the corresponding platform (“metaverse”) – How closely are platform and avatar linked?
Böhm: We offer avatars for many different platforms. Each avatar is optimized for the respective application in terms of format and specific properties. For example, there are avatars that can be sent as stickers via WhatsApp or shared on social media in the form of a video.
But we also offer avatars for the so-called metaverse, with the help of which you can move freely in the virtual 3D world and interact with other avatars. In addition to our own doob metaverse, which already offers many new possibilities for collaboration in distributed teams, many other platforms will emerge. We believe that the personal avatar represents everyone’s digital identity and will therefore be used across platforms.
Metaverse, cloud technology, AI – these are just three of the current buzzwords in the retail tech sector. Innovations around these topics can be found at EuroShop, the World’s Leading No. 1 Retail Trade Fair, in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Dimension Retail Technology offers unique opportunities to learn about new products and gain expertise.
How can other stakeholders outside your own team (customers, investors, like-minded people, etc.) be reached on these platforms?
Böhm: If you use our Metaverse platform within the company, external participants can also be invited to an interactive session. Even if you don’t have a personal avatar, you can participate in an interactive avatar meeting on an equal level with an according invitation.
Ease of use: technical requirements and platform compatibility
What technical requirements does a company need in order to use your platform?
Böhm: We offer our platform in a software-as-a-service model. Therefore, no special technical requirements are necessary. Users of the platform can simply enter the metaverse with their avatar via a browser and invite other participants to join.
doob also offers avatars in the form of NFTs (“Non-Fungible Tokens”). What blockchain is behind this?
Böhm: doob also provides avatars as NFTs upon customer request to protect them as unique digital assets according to the possibilities of blockchains. We are basically flexible in our choice of blockchain. We currently use Ethereum blockchain as the dominant smart contract platform and Polygon as a second layer solution.
NFTs are repeatedly criticized in public due to their environmental impact. What are doob’s thoughts on this?
Böhm: With the conversion of the blockchain from Ethereum 1.0 (proof-of-work) to Ethereum 2.0 (proof-of-stake) in September 2022, the transformation of this second largest cryptocurrency to a significantly more climate-friendly operation is also complete. Fundamentally, the use of NFTs in the context of personal avatars is still in its infancy. We see this as an opportunity to create interesting new digital offerings for consumers together with our partners.
At EuroShop, visitors can have their own avatar created at your booth. Where can you find doob in the exhibition halls?
Böhm: We are very pleased to be able to present our brand-new 3D avatar scanner at this year’s EuroShop, for which we recently received a German Design Award. We welcome all visitors to visit us in Hall 3/A19 and receive a personal avatar in the form of a video for social media. You will be surprised what your avatar can do!