Katie Contreras and Chris Nguyen, experience experts, stand at the customer boarding station for the Quest Demo space during a tour of the inaugural physical store Meta Platforms Inc. Facebook owner in Burlingame, California, May 4, 2022.
Brittany Hosea-Small | Reuters
Meta is taking the next step in its evolution from an ad-supported social network to a hardware-driven technology company for the metaverse era, opening its first retail store.
As the company formerly known as Facebook works to justify the billions 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 mainstream consumers. CEO Mark Zuckerberg put forward an ambitious vision for a metaverse, in which people will communicate in virtual worlds through a variety of devices such as virtual reality headsets, but suggested that this will not 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 experience to understand them.
“Trade is key to us being another touch point for the consumer,” Gilliard said. “What we’re going to learn from this store will help us inform ourselves if we keep doing more, but what we’re really looking for is the ability to tell a story and get feedback from consumers.”
Meta’s first plain presence is a neat 1,500-square-foot space near the Reality Labs headquarters in Burlingame, California, with three products on display on blue wood shelves.
The most important for the adoption of the metaverse are the Quest Two virtual reality headphones, which consumers can demonstrate to understand the different cases of using virtual reality.
Members of the Meta team are ready to offer assistance in demonstrating different spaces during a review of the inaugural physical store of Meta Platforms Inc., the owner of Facebook, in Burlingame, California, on May 4, 2022.
Brittany Hosea-Small | Reuters
Then there’s Meta’s Ray Ban Stories, “smart glasses” that take photos and videos to share on social platforms.
And finally, the company introduces the Portal, a video calling device that the company sells as a solution to work from home and family to stay in touch.
“We’ve built a store to make you feel at home, to make you feel at work, so you can easily apply how this experience translates to the way you actually use it in the real world,” Gilliard says.
But stores aren’t just there to show consumers Meta’s new products. Because all three products are in relatively new categories, Gilliard said the company also wants to learn from the way consumers interact with them.
“Customer feedback is part of what we will continue to build in the future,” Gilliard says.
Customers are waiting in line in front of the new Meta retail store on opening day in Burlingame, California, May 9, 2022.
Nathan Frandino | Reuters
Notably, the store is not in a busy pedestrian shopping street, such as the Apple store near Burlingame, but is anchored for Meta’s Reality Labs offices. Gilliard replies, “What I’m going to say about the location is that it’s accessible. We have a lot of hiking trails here, and even from [the first day’s] The response, I don’t think, has deterred people from showing up at the store. “
For now, Meta isn’t saying whether it plans to open more permanent stores or follow pop-ups, as Amazon has done.