Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the world by storm over the past year. Digital collectibles, which were characterized exclusively as CryptoKitties in 2017, have since evolved into well-known works of art, digitized music, high-end fashion for Metaverse and a way for communities to connect with others around the world.
Even with the current crypto bear market, recent findings from security firm Security.org found that NFT ownership has doubled in the past year, rising from an estimated 4.6 million people to 9.3 million people. The report also found that while the vast majority of Americans are not ready to buy NFTs, approximately 16.3 million potential customers are likely to buy non-fungible tokens over the next 12 months.
Consumers are experiencing NFTs with IRL coins
Given the potential of NFTs, it should come as no surprise that a handful of retailers and brands are starting to incorporate non-fungible tokens into their product offerings. Although this has been proven by brands that bridge the gap between physical goods and digital NFTs, a handful of retailers now incorporate NFT technology into physical stores.
This was recently demonstrated by the Italian luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo. Ferragamo’s new concept store opened on June 24, 2022 in the Soho area of New York, the day after NFT NYC closed. From the outside, the Ferragamo store located at 63 Greene Street appears as usual, but when consumers walk in, they can experience Web3 on their own via immersive shopping features.
Daniella Vitale, CEO of Ferragamo North America, told Cointelegraph during a preview of the store that the Soho location is merging technology with the luxury world by including an NFT installation along with a custom hologram sneaker program. She said:
“Everyone always talks about NFTs, so we wanted to bring an actual experience into the Soho store that allows people to create their own NFTs. We hope to acquire new customers who are well acquainted with Web3, but this is also about to make our existing customers a part of this world. I think this will be a great success. ”
Vitale added that Ferragamo’s NFT installation – which was created in collaboration with the digital artist Shxpir (pronounced as the English poet and playwright Shakespeare) – is the first of its kind, noting that no other Ferragamo store contains such a feature.
“We did not want our Soho store to be so static – we wanted it to have a technological angle. The NFT stand was integrated directly into the store design to include the entire shopping experience, she said. Vitale added that she hopes these immersive features allow customers to learn about Web3 technology instead of being intimidated by the forward-thinking sector.
To ensure this, a representative from the interdisciplinary studio De-Yan – who worked with Ferragamo on the installations and has helped with immersive projects for Louis Vuitton and Dior – told Cointelegraph that it does not cost customers anything to emboss a Ferragamo NFT.
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“This will be the first NFT for many people, so Ferragamo will pay all the Ether gas charges on transfers.” In addition, he noted that representatives will be available to assist customers throughout the embossing process. He further shared that the NFT installation will take place, but that the store limits the first collection to 256 NFTs. “There are 972 potential combinations the NFTs can take, but only 256 can be affected at the moment,” he said.
Regarding the actual embossing process, he explained that the experience is completely immersive, and noticed that the NFT installation is enclosed in a mirror room to ensure that customers get a 360-degree view of the NFT they make.
“Customers can customize the NFT and can then film a video with the NFT to share on social media afterwards,” he said. After the mint, customers will be sent an e-mail requesting their wallet address. “NFT is then sent to their Ethereum address and will appear on their OpenSea account a day or so later,” he explained.
Although Ferragamo may be one of the first luxury fashion brands to offer in-store NFT performance, the Web3 media and entertainment brand known as the Doodles community provided a similar feature. Doodles set up an external house during NFT NYC 2022 to give fans and community members a chance to sample the latest NFT drop, see Doodles artwork and buy exclusive items like sweatshirts and t-shirts. Julian Holguin, operations manager at Doodles, told Cointelegraph that the goal of the Doodles house was to elevate the brand by letting people experience everything in real life. He said:
“We just announced the pre-sale for our second NFT release, which is what’s going on here. People are here to physically imprint a ‘Genesis Box’, which is a box of wearables that will be the next level of rarity. People can buy a wearable today at a fixed price to reserve space for this coin. ”
To date, the Doodles NFT project has generated secondary sales worth around $ 500 million since its launch in October 2021. With over 6,000 Doodles owners, Holguin explained that the embossing experience should be “fun and joyful”, noting that this is what they notice stands for. “I think when people can touch and feel things, it creates an emotional response. They can then experience those feelings online,” he said.
Similar to the Ferragamo NFT installation, Doodles House at NFT NYC hosted a machine where guests could make their Genesis Box NFT reservation. After completion, a golden card was inserted that resembled a credit card from the vending machine, which guests could take as a memorable memory. Users were required to pay for the gas fees, which cost around $ 127 and could be purchased by credit card.
The importance of bringing NFTs to life
For example, John Crain, co-founder and CEO of SuperRare – a digital art marketplace launched in 2018 – told Cointelegraph that having a physical art gallery linked to NFTs provides a great opportunity for both crypto-natives and crypto-curious to experience NFTs. . With this in mind, SuperRare opened its first physical art gallery in May this year, which is also located in the Soho area of New York. Crain said:
“I think people see headlines about celebrities buying Bored Apes, which is exciting, but at the same time there is a cultural renaissance where independent artists are strengthened by this technology. It is difficult to see this, so it is important to have a physical gallery. where society can experience art on its own, while meeting the artists and curators. ”
Crain shared that the SuperRare gallery in Soho will be open until the end of August, with the option to expand or expand to other cities. “We organize different exhibitions every other week, which is a great way to promote community building while adding a deeper context to the art on display. This is difficult to get from a purely digital experience,” he noted.
De-Yan’s representative added that he believes the mix of technology and customization will be important for retail in the future. He said:
“Ferragamo has chosen a special approach that we think is a good start. I would not be surprised if we saw other brands follow us. That’s the fun part of NFT space – right now everyone thinks of NFTs as photos or videos, but it’s a whole physical layer and an application layer. ”
While bringing digital NFTs to life in physical spaces can be revolutionary, it is also important to point out challenges that may hinder adoption. For example, while in-store mint can be fun and interactive, users new to the crypto area may still find it difficult, especially people of older generations.
According to the findings from Security.org, people between the ages of 25 and 34 were more likely to buy NFTs over the next 12 months compared to older or younger generations. The research also found that men are a little more interested than women in buying NFTs next year.
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Given this, fashion brands like Ferragamo may have trouble getting customers to procure NFTs. To prevent this from happening, De-Yan’s representative explained that Ferragamo shares instructions on how people can get started with NFTs. “MetaMask is probably the easiest way. Ferragamo also starts the transfer, so all a customer needs is a wallet address,” he said.
The fact that Ferragamo pays for gas taxes is really appealing, as Security.org also found that the main problem with NFTs continues to be the high cost of minting. Given this, Vitale noted that the current crypto bear market is unlikely to deter customers from making Ferragamo NFTs. “Paying for gas taxes is an important gesture, especially in moments like this,” she said.