Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 83

The latest tech news to inform and inspire

  • Wearable NFTs. Estée Lauder launched its first NFT last week, as the exclusive beauty partner of virtual social world Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week, which ran from March 24 to 27. The brand partnered with metaverse artist Alex Box to create an NFT, which is inspired by the brand’s Advanced Night Repair serum. Users can virtually step inside the bottle to unlock a digital badge, or Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP), and claim one NFT wearable. The wearable is described as giving avatars a glowing, radiant look inspired by the Advanced Night Repair. From March 24 to 28 a limited quantity of 10,000 complimentary Advanced Night Repair NFT wearables were available to be claimed by fashion week visitors. Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) said the launch represented two technological firsts for the group: The company’s first use of badges of POAP and its first wearable NFTs.


  • Weibo NFTs. In other NFT news, Chinese social-media platform Weibo is the latest social network to get in on the digital artwork trend. The platform launched NFT marketplace TopHolder earlier this month. Through the marketplace, users can create and sell NFTs.


  • Metaverse grocery store. Thailand’s Central Retail is heading to the metaverse with the launch of a blockchain-powered supermarket. The company’s Central Food Retail has partnered with Southeast Asia cryptocurrency platform Zipmex to offer consumers what it calls a more seamless shopping experience, as well as access to products and services in real time, without giving further details about what this means. Central Food Retail said it plans to tap into the potential of the metaverse which is run on digital asset infrastructures such as crypto and NFT.


  • Data harvesting. Some 96% of brands plan to increase their marketing budgets as a result of Google’s announcement last year that it will retire third-party cookies and Apple’s new privacy features, according to a survey by customer engagement platform Braze. Some 42% plan to increase the number of marketing channels they use, and 38% aim to put more emphasis on zero-party data (defined as shared by users) and first-party data (defined as gathered with user content). Changes in the data landscape are leading brands to abandon third-party data and focus on creating experiences through other means, notes the report. One strategy that brands should consider is engaging anonymous users, says Braze. Anonymous users, who take action on websites without logging in, opting to “continue as a guest” or who have not been given an official identifier, accounted for 57% of new users to a company’s website in 2021, reflecting a large untapped audience, the company  claims.


  • NeuroTech. Social-media company Snap has acquired Paris-based neurotech company NextMind as it aims to bolster its augmented reality (AR) offer. NextMind has developed a technology that lets users control digital objects via an AR or VR wearable. The technology, which is embedded into a headset, monitors a user’s neural activity to understand intent when interacting with a digital object. Machine learning algorithms then translate the neural activity into digital commands in real time. For example, instead of using one’s hands to manually unlock an iPhone, a user wearing the NextMind headset would simply need to think it and the iPhone would unlock.


  • 3D ads. Meta has inked a deal with e-commerce technology firm Vntana to integrate 3D ads on Instagram and Facebook. Through the new integration, Vntana allows brands to upload their existing 3D designs from other programs and automatically converts them to Facebook and Instagram standards. The 3D models can then be published from Vntana directly to the Meta catalog so brands can then create the 3D ads. The offer was announced last year with select beauty brands. Like regular ads, 3D ads appear in users’ Facebook and Instagram feeds displaying interactive 3D models that users can tap and interact with, allowing them to move the product around to view all angles.


  • Instacart Platform. North American grocery delivery service Instacart has launched new services for retailers in the areas of fulfillment, advertising and consumer insights. Services include Carrot Ads, which allow retailers to launch ad platforms from their own e-commerce sites, thereby providing a new revenue stream. Meanwhile, Carrot Warehouses offers retailers 15-minute delivery; Instacart says it will work with retailers to create delivery solutions according to their needs, such as building new nano-fulfillment centers and automation. Lastly, Carrot Insights gives retailers information on buying trends. It consists of dashboards that track order volumes, out of stocks, in addition to data on geographic sales and customer buying trends.