Taobao Launches ‘Metaverse Mall’ in Time for China’s 618 Shopping Festival

    Alibaba's latest venture in the metaverse is a fully immersive virtual mall. What does this mean for the future of shopping?
    Taobao's latest venture in the metaverse is a fully immersive virtual mall. What does this mean for the future of shopping? Photo: Tech Planet

    What happened

    To prepare for the country's annual 618 Shopping Festival, Alibaba’s Taobao has appointed the help of a specialist metaversal project team to create a fully-optimized virtual shopping venue open to its customers. Using their phones, shoppers will be able to guide their avatars through 3D stores and engage in a number of interactive activities. The project, according to the company, is a chance to undergo a technical exploration of the immersive shopping scenarios Web3 has to offer.

    The Jing Take

    The e-tailer joins several global names who are establishing opportunities in virtual e-commerce. Previously, the metaverse has seen fashion brands such as Italian luxury groups Hogan and Dolce & Gabbana and high-end retailer Selfridges utilize platforms like The Sandbox and Decentraland to host their limited-time stores. But this announcement takes China’s concept of Web3 real estate to the next level.

    To date, Taobao hasn’t been shy when it comes to making its name known within the metaverse. From their VR Shopping Buy+ program to TaoBao Life’s virtual avatars, this fully-immersive metaverse mall is only its latest Web3 development. With this, one of Taobao’s primary focuses is to ensure that consumers’ three-dimensional shopping needs are met. This is being achieved without the need for external devices, such as VR headsets.

    Not only does this approach allow for maximum user accessibility (all that consumers will need is a smartphone) but this optimized take on virtual retail is a chance to leverage shopper’s e-commerce experience and sculpt out even more space for lucrative opportunities.

    This launch arrives at a very apt point in time. As Shanghai’s recent lockdown has put unavoidable strain on numerous retail businesses, Web3 is becoming an increasingly promising alternative for labels to generate sales, respond to their consumer demand, and maintain cultural relevance while physical store-fronts remain closed. And, of course, this mall is an example of how firms can utilize the metaverse in a way that aligns with the country's stringent restrictions on cryptocurrency and the trading of digital assets.

    This announcement from a conglomerate of Alibaba’s stature in yet another metaverse endeavor proves that the mainland’s Web3 has well and truly arrived. As we witness the decline of the physical retail experience and dwindling store-fronts, Taobao’s metaverse mall could mark the beginning of a second life for department store shopping: meaning that it, too, is here to stay.

    The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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