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H&M is ensuring that the retail push onto Roblox continues into 2023 with a new immersive experience.
The news: On Wednesday, the H&M Looptopia Experience launched on Roblox. Fast fashion retailer H&M partnered with metaverse studio Dubit to create space where players can experiment with new digital fashion materials and patterns for their avatar. In doing so, they can also learn about fashion and circularity.
What’s in it? H&M said the experience has “social interaction, engaging environments, mini-games, styling sessions, alternate worlds, events and more.” In the digital space, players can do the following:
- Visit a city square and enter alternate worlds such as Rainbooow Fields, Neon Studiooo and Fabric Fooorest.
- Style their avatar with digital clothes, and complement them with accessories, dance moves, music tracks and special effects.
- Meet friends to trade clothes and take selfies.
- Recycle old clothes to earn “super-rare elements” and star in a runway show.
Key quote: "People who shop and wear H&M garments and accessories are increasingly spending time in virtual spaces and digital worlds. The H&M Loooptopia Experience on Roblox is now allowing us to explore new ways to engage with our current and new customers in the places they love to be, both online and offline," said Linda Li, head of customer activation & marketing for H&M Americas, in a statement.
Into the metaverse
H&M is by no means the first retailer to enter virtual platforms like Roblox and Decentraland. Walmart, Albertsons and Build-a-Bear all recently made forays onto the popular gaming platform in the final months of 2022. If the last two years were prologue, more are likely to roll out, as well. But H&M happens to be the first activation of the new year, so let’s take this opportunity to break down a few keys to its approach:
Digital to physical: You can’t buy H&M clothes in Roblox. But having a presence can still help H&M influence sales. Engaging in activities on Roblox helps to build tastes and habits. Trying on clothes and meeting up with friends are the same activities one would engage in at a physical mall, so there’s potential that those activities will extend into the physical world, as well. "At H&M we want to encourage the emerging generation of digital natives to express themselves through fashion both off and on screen,” said Max Heirbaut, global head of brand experience for the metaverse at H&M.
Linking values: Sustainability is a primary concern for the younger Generations of Z and Alpha that make up the largest share of the audience on Roblox, and H&M is centering it here. Offering education and building incentives into the experience helps to put circularity alongside fashion in the virtual world, even if that record of doing so is less clear for fast fashion in the physical world. In effect, it is gamifying this environmental awareness, and building it in from the start of its presence in the digital space.
New styles coming soon? One reason retailers such as PacSun are seeing promise in Roblox and the metaverse is that it can offer a space to crowdsource new products as it observes the virtual clothes that are created. H&M didn’t say outright that it will look to the Roblox world for this purpose. But the fact that players can design their own styles would lend itself well to this function in the future. Fast fashion is known for sourcing from social media, so why wouldn't retailers look on Roblox for the latest creative styles, as well? After all, untethering physical parameters has the habit of unlocking creativity.
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The cuts amount to 4% of the ecommerce platform's workforce.
eBay is set to become the latest ecommerce platform to conduct layoffs.
The company announced plans on Tuesday to lay off 500 employees, which amounts to about 4% of its workforce. Layoffs were set to take place over the next 24 hours, the company said Tuesday evening.
In an SEC filing, CEO Jamie Iannone said the decision to make layoffs came after consideration of the macroeconomic environment and where the company could best invest for the long-term.
Iannone said the moves “are designed to strengthen our ability to deliver better end-to-end experiences for our customers and to support more innovation and scale across our platform.”
“Importantly, this shift gives us additional space to invest and create new roles in high-potential areas — new technologies, customer innovations and key markets — and to continue to adapt and flex with the changing macro, ecommerce and technology landscape,” Iannone wrote. “We’re also simplifying our structure to make decisions more effectively and with more speed.”
eBay is one of the oldest ecommerce platforms, and remains an active marketplace for both new and resale items. The San Francisco-based company has yet to report results for the fourth quarter of 2022. In the third quarter, the company said gross merchandise volume was down 11%, and revenue was down 5% year-over-year.
Yet the company has also continued to invest. In 2022, it acquired collectibles platform TCGPlayer and myFitment, which provides parts and accessories for automotive and powersports. It also opened a secure vault for trading cards, and launched livestreaming.
eBay is also seeing a boost from advertising, with revenue driven by promoted listings up 19% in the third quarter.
With the layoffs, eBay joins other tech companies that provide the infrastructure of ecommerce in making layoffs. Amazon, Shopify, Salesforce, BigCommerce and Wayfair have all recently announced layoffs. Technology giants like Meta, Google and Microsoft have also made job cuts.
It comes as inflation is weighing on consumers’ discretionary spending, and the return to more in-person shopping throughout 2022 led to a correction following aggressive hiring during the pandemic.