Minting nonfungible tokens (NFTs) at physical locations might be the next big trend for brands that are entering Web3. NFTs have taken the world by storm since the start of 2021.
Digital collectibles that were characterized mainly as CryptoKitties in 2017 have since evolved to become famous digitized music, pieces of art, top-quality fashion in the metaverse, and a means for communities to link with others across the world.
Even in the current crypto winter, recent findings from the research company Security.org found that NFT ownership has doubled in the past year, rising from around 4.6 million people to 9.3 million people. The report also mentioned that while the huge majority of Americans are not ready to buy NFTs, nearly 16.3 million possible clients might purchase nonfungible tokens in the coming 12 months.
Consumers Experience NFTs With IRL Mints
Given the potential that NFTs have to offer, it should never come as a surprise that several retailers and brands are starting to incorporate NFTs into their product offerings. While that has been proven by brands that bridge physical goods to digital nonfungible tokens, some retailers are now incorporating NFT technology into multiple physical Store locations.
This was recently shown by the luxury Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo. Its new concept store opened on June 24, 2022, in New York’s Soho neighborhood, a day after NFT NYC concluded. Looking from the outside, the Ferragamo store situated at 63 Greene Street seems ordinary. But once clients step inside, they can experience Web3 firsthand through immersive shopping features.
CEO of Ferragamo North America, Daniella Vitale, said during a preview of the store that the Soho location is integrating technology with the world of luxury by incorporating a nonfungible token installation alongside a custom hologram sneaker program. She stated:
“Everyone is always talking about NFTs, so we wanted to bring an experience into the Soho store that allows people to create their own NFTs. We hope to acquire new customers that are well versed in Web3, but this is also about getting our existing customers to be a part of this world. I think this will be a huge success.”
Vitale also said that Ferragamo’s NFT installation, developed in partnership with digital artist Shxpir (pronounced like Shakespeare), is the first of a kind. Notably, no other Ferragamo store has such a feature. She stated:
“We didn’t want our Soho store to be so static — we wanted it to have a technology angle. The NFT booth was integrated directly into the store design to encompass the entire shopping experience.”
Vitale also stated that she believes the immersive features will enable customers to learn about Web3 technology instead of getting intimidated by the Advancing sector.
To guarantee this, a representative coming from the multidisciplinary studio De-Yan said that minting a Ferragamo NFT will not cost customers anything. The studio worked with Ferragamo on the installations and has helped with immersive projects for Dior and Louis Vuitton.
“This will be the first NFT for a lot of people, so Ferragamo will be paying all the Ether gas fees on transfers.”
Furthermore, he said that representatives will be available to help clients throughout the whole minting process. He also shared that the NFT installation will be continuing but the store is limiting the inaugural collection to 256 NFTs. He stated:
“There are 972 potential combinations the NFTs can take, but only 256 can be minted as of now.”
In terms of the real minting process, he said that the experience is wholly immersive, noting that the nonfungible token installation is enclosed in a mirrored room to guarantee that clients enjoy a 360-degree view of the nonfungible token that they are creating.
“Customers get to customize their NFT and are then able to film a video with that NFT to share on social media afterward.”
Following the mint, clients are sent a claim email that requests their wallet address. He explained:
“The NFT is then sent to their Ethereum address and will appear in their OpenSea account a day or so later.”
While Ferragamo seems to be one of the first luxury fashion brands offering in-store NFT minting, the Web3 media and entertainment brand called Doodles offered its community a similar feature. Doodles managed to set up an offsite house during NFT NYC 2022 to enable fans and community members to have an opportunity to mint the newest NFT drop, review Doodles’ artwork, and buy exclusive merchandise like t-shirts and sweatshirts.
Chief operating officer at Doodles, Julian Holguin, said that the goal of the Doodles house was to boost the brand by enabling people to experience everything in real life. He commented:
“We just announced the pre-sale for our second NFT drop, which is what is happening here. People are here to physically mint a ‘Genesis Box,’ which is a crate of wearables that will be the next level of rarity. People can buy a wearable today at a fixed price to reserve their spot for this mint.”
Up to today, the Doodles NFT project has managed to generate nearly $500 million worth of secondary sales since its launch in October last year. With more than 6,000 Doodles’ owners, Holguin said that the minting process needs to be “fun and joyful,” noting that it is what the brand stands for. He added:
“I believe that when people can touch and feel things it creates an emotional response. They can then experience those emotions online.”
Just like the Ferragamo NFT installation, the Doodles House active at NFT NYC hosted a machine for the guests to mint their Genesis Box NFT reservation. After completing, a golden card that resembles a credit card was deposited from the machine, which the guests could take as a souvenir keepsake.
Users needed to pay for the gas fees which cost around $127 and could be acquired using a credit card.
The Benefits Of Bringing NFTs To Life
The co-founder and CEO of SuperRare, John Crain, said that having a physical art gallery linked to NFTs offers an ideal opportunity for both the crypto-curious and crypto-natives to experience NFTs. With that in mind, SuperRare opened its first physical art gallery in May 2022, which is also situated in New York’s Soho neighborhood.
“I think people see headlines about celebrities buying Bored Apes, which is exciting, but at the same time, there is a cultural renaissance happening where independent artists are being empowered by this technology. It’s hard to see this, which is why it’s important to have a physical gallery where the community can experience the art firsthand, while also meeting the artists and curators.”
Crain confirmed that the SuperRare gallery in Soho will remain open until the end of August, with the potential of expanding to other cities. He remarked:
“We are hosting different exhibitions every two weeks, which is a great way to promote community building while adding a deeper context to the art displayed. This is hard to get from a purely digital experience.”
De-Yan’s representative thinks that the mix of technology and customization will be crucial for the space in the future. He stated:
“Ferragamo has chosen a particular approach that we think is a good start. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw other brands following our lead. That’s the fun part about the NFT space — right now everyone is thinking about NFTs as pictures or videos, but there is a whole physical and application layer to it.”
While bringing digital nonfungible tokens alive in physical places could be seen as revolutionary, it is crucial to highlight the challenges that may limit adoption. For instance, while the in-store mints might be fun and interactive, users new to the crypto industry may find it challenging, especially senior citizens.
Based on the findings from Security.org, people between the ages of 25 to 34 were highly likely to buy NFTs in the coming 12 months compared with older and younger generations. The research also discovered that men are a bit more interested than women in acquiring NFTs in the next 12 months.
Taking that into consideration, Ferragamo and other fashion brands might have challenges getting clients to acquire NFTs. Hence, to prevent this from happening, De-Yan’s representatives explained that Ferragamo is sharing instructions on how individuals can get started with NFTs. He stated:
“MetaMask is probably the easiest way. Ferragamo is also initiating the transfer, so all a customer needs is a wallet address.”
It is quite appealing that Ferragamo is paying for gas fees. Security.org also discovered that the primary challenge with NFTs is the high cost associated with minting. With that in mind, Vitale noted that the current crypto bear market will probably not deter clients from creating Ferragamo NFTs. She concluded:
“Paying for gas fees is an important gesture, especially in moments like this.”