Meta’s first store aims to draw consumers into the metaverse

Experienced experts Katie Contreras and Chris Nguyen are at the customer’s onboarding station for the Quest Demo space during a preview of the inaugural physical store of Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook, in Burlingame, Calif., May 4, 2022.

Brittany Hosea-Piccolo | Reuters

A half is taking the next step in its evolution from being an ad-supported social network to a hardware-based tech company for the metaverse era, with the opening of its first-ever retail store.

While the company formerly known as Facebook works to justify the billions it is pouring into the metaverse infrastructure – its Reality Labs segment lost $ 3 billion in the first quarter – it is stepping up its efforts to introduce its next-generation products to the consumer. mainstream. CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined an ambitious vision for the metaverse, in which people will interact in virtual worlds through various devices such as virtual reality headsets, but suggested it won’t be done until the end of this decade.

Martin Gilliard, Head of Meta Store, tells CNBC that the store is designed to expose consumers to Meta products, which you really have to try to understand.

“The store is essential for us to be another point of contact for the consumer,” said Gilliard. “What we will learn from this store will help inform if we continue to do more of these, but what we are really looking for is the ability to tell a story and get consumer feedback.”

Meta’s first brick-and-mortar presence is a tidy 1,500-square-foot space adjacent to its Reality Labs headquarters in Burlingame, California, with three products on display on blond wood shelves.

Most important to the adoption of the metaverse is the Quest Two virtual reality headset, which consumers can demonstrate to understand the various use cases of virtual reality.

Meta team members are ready to offer help by demonstrating the different spaces during a preview of the inaugural physical store of Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook, in Burlingame, California, May 4, 2022.

Brittany Hosea-Piccolo | Reuters

Then there are Meta’s Ray Ban Stories, the “smart glasses” that capture photos and videos to share on social platforms.

Finally, the company introduces the portal, a video calling device that the company is marketing as a solution for work from home and families to stay connected.

“We built the store to feel like home, to feel like working, so that you can actually easily apply how this experience translates into how to actually use it in the real world,” says Gilliard.

But the stores aren’t just there to show consumers new Meta products. As all three products fall into relatively new categories, Gilliard said the company is also trying to learn from how consumers interact with them.

“Customer feedback is part of what we will continue to build in the future,” says Gilliard.

Customers wait in line outside the new Meta store on opening day in Burlingame, California on May 9, 2022.

Nathan Frandino | Reuters

It should be noted that the store is not located on a busy pedestrianized shopping street, such as the Apple Store not far in Burlingame, but is rather anchored in the offices of Meta’s Reality Labs. Gilliard replies, “What I’m going to say about the location is that it’s accessible. We have many footpaths here and even from [the first day’s] turnout, I don’t think it was a deterrent to people who showed up at the store. “

For now, Meta isn’t saying whether it intends to open more permanent stores or pursue pop-ups, as Amazon did.