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Israeli startup launches shopping into the metaverse

ByondXR brings virtual retail to life for Armani, Lancôme, L’Oréal and other top brands

(Photo: ByondXR)
(Photo: ByondXR)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pledged at last week’s COP26 climate talks to encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to “pivot from making another cool web app” to working on climate change solutions. “As the country with the most startups per capita in the world, we must channel our efforts to saving our world,” he told global leaders in Glasgow.

ByondXR is already heeding that call – and making it profitable.

ByondXR creates interactive 3D websites for leading global brands that go beyond an online catalog and immerse buyers in the shopping experience. XR stands for Extended Reality, which means visitors can walk through a virtual store, select products from shelves and even try them out in their homes – all at unprecedented online speeds. The company’s tech includes livestreamed sales assistants and even games that reward players with discount coupons, samples or other prizes.

Welcome to the shopping metaverse, where ByondXR is a pioneer.

The company’s virtual stores – unlike online tools that simply supplement brick-and-mortar stores – eliminate almost all the waste produced by a physical shop. There is no pollution from private vehicles, no malls to heat, cool or maintain, no sprawling parking lots, no trash or cleaning materials. It is attractive and sustainable for growing numbers of buyers.

Manufacturers and customers “looking to increase their sustainability” are increasingly interested in the new approach, says ByondXR CEO Noam Levavi.

“Especially in fashion and home decor, sales through virtual showrooms translate to significant savings for companies that no longer have to make and supply their goods to brick-and-mortar stores,” Levavi says.

“We bridge the physical and virtual worlds,” Levavi says, “and utilize technology to attract and engage new customers – especially younger customers who demand more from their online interactions – in a more cost-effective way.”

On average, visitors spend 250 percent more time in ByondXR’s virtual stores than they do in competing online versions, Levavi says. They also add 60 percent more products to their basket. But most importantly, he says, retailers are finding that the customer experience allows retailers to attract double the number of visitors back months later through re-targeting campaigns, with higher and more positive response rates.

ByondXR has created virtual stores for luxury names including Armani, L’Oréal, Lancôme and La Roche-Posay, as well as household giants like P&G and Target.

This month, the company created a virtual pop-up for Armani Beauty Germany, complete with an avatar of a well-known German Instagram influencer who guides visitors around the shop and encourages them to try out the products – including the makeup.

“Those brands are not adopting our tech just for sales performance,” Levavi says. “They are utilizing it to build a new type of brand experience, to attract, engage and hold on to new, especially younger, customers.”

“Visiting a virtual store is a more emotional experience, users remember it,” he says. “So, after driving users to the store through social media and online influencers, it becomes about an overall journey, not just a one-time visit.”

The experience is made possible by super-fast rendering and streaming from cloud-based, 3D models of images with unprecedented visual quality. Shoppers can use it any time, from any place and on any device, from smartphones to laptops. No special equipment is needed, although the experience will become even more sophisticated on increasingly immersive devices, including virtual- and augmented-reality headsets.

The pandemic-prompted explosion in e-commerce also triggered a rising demand for XR technology. The industry is forecast to be worth more than $125 billion by 2026.

Levavi, with 20 years of experience in providing digital media that helped brands like Mercedes, Ferrari, Nike, Chanel, Hugo Boss, AT&T, Microsoft and Coca-Cola deliver personalized content to their customers, was perfectly placed to step in.

“ByondXR has been able to automate the processes that other companies need to continually update by hand or outsource to cheaper countries,” says Michael Reidboard, president of the US-based Fashion Tech Consortium. “ByondXR has managed to create a virtual world, fully automate it and, most critically, give global retailers the tools they need to update it in-house. No one else is working that way. Their product is like Excel, Word or PowerPoint. Once you’ve downloaded it, you should be able to use it.”

“They are also tying the technology to economics, and continually monitoring how many products are on a shelf, how to best sell them, and more. That data allows retailers to go to market immediately, saving them tons of time and money to deploy,” Reidboard says. “ByondXR is offering a truly unique product, one that is especially useful for the cosmetics, beauty and fashion industries, where two-dimensional imaging just doesn’t cut it.”

A growing number of companies agree. “We have been using ByondXR’s platform to create true-to-life, immersive pop-up experiences for Lancome consumers around the world,” says Malik Abu-Ghazaleh, global head of Digital Marketing, Ecommerce and CRM for Lancome. “These virtual pop-ups have shown great value in terms of audience engagement and sales. Having seen the potential, I’m positive we will do many more of these with the ByondXR platform for years to come.”

In addition to multi-billion-dollar companies, Levavi says ByondXR is now ready to branch out to “$100 million plus” businesses, scaling the experience for exponentially wider audiences, as static websites continue to give way to virtual stores and showrooms offering personalized shopping journeys.

Client companies will purchase an annual license and do much of their own site management, Levavi says. That will allow his company to take on hundreds – compared to the current dozens – of retail clients in parallel.

ByondXR is already active in 20 countries, using eight languages, and is on track to quadruple its earnings in 2021. It is most established in the United States and Europe, but is successfully creating a presence in Asia and South America, areas notoriously difficult to penetrate.

ByondXR is raising an investment round. To participate through OurCrowd, click HERE.

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