Experienced experts Katie Contreras and Chris Nguyen stand at the customer’s onboarding station for the Quest Demo space during a preview of Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc’s first physical store in Burlingame, California on May 4 2022.
Brittany Osée-Petit | Reuters
Meta has taken the next step in its evolution from an ad-supported social network to a hardware-focused technology company for the Metaverse era, with the opening of its first retail store of it.
As the company formerly known as Facebook scrambled to justify the billions it poured into metaverse infrastructure-the Reality Labs share lost $ 3 billion in the first quarter-it stepped up efforts to show the next generation public products. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has set an ambitious vision for the Metaverse, where people will interact with virtual worlds through a variety of devices such as VR headsets, but has suggested that won’t happen until end of this decade.
Martin Gilliard, head of the Meta Store, told CNBC that the store is designed to expose consumers to Meta products, which you need to experience to understand.
“The store is important so we can be another point of touch for the consumer,” Gilliard said. “What we know from this store will help us determine if we will continue to do more, but what we are looking for is the ability to tell a story and get feedback from consumers.”
Meta’s first brick-and-mortar presence was a neat 1,500 square feet of space adjacent to its Reality Labs headquarters in Burlingame, Calif., With three products displayed on blond wood shelves.
The highlight of Metaverse’s adoption is the Quest Two VR headset, where consumers can demo to understand different VR use cases.
Meta team members are ready to help showcase the various spaces during Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc’s first physical store preview in Burlingame, Calif., On May 4, 2022.
Brittany Osée-Petit | Reuters
Then there are Ray Ban Stories on Meta, “smart glasses” that capture photos and videos to share on social platforms.
And finally, the company introduced the Portal, a video calling device that the company sells as a solution for home workers and families to stay in touch.
“We built the store to feel like home, to feel like work, so you can easily use how to translate that experience into how you use it in the real world,” Gilliard explains.
But stores aren’t just there to present new Meta products to consumers. Since all three products fall into relatively new categories, Gilliard said the company is also looking to find out how consumers interact with them.
“Customer feedback is about what we will continue to build in the future,” Gilliard said.
Customers line up outside the new Meta retail store on the day it opens in Burlingame, California, May 9, 2022.
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It’s worth noting that the store isn’t on a busy pedestrian shopping street, like the nearby Apple store in Burlingame, but is instead anchored in Meta’s Reality Labs offices. Gilliard replied: “What I would say about the location is that it is accessible. We have a lot of hiking trails here and even [the first day’s] turnout, I don’t think that stopped people from showing up to the store. “
So far, Meta has not said whether it plans to open more permanent stores or continue pop-ups, such as those on Amazon.