Transforming NBA Shopping: The Avaturn-Powered Hornets Virtual Fan Shop

2024.02.08

Athletes have long been style icons, but in recent years, both their influence and the fashion inspired by them have skyrocketed. They've become pivotal influencers for brands targeting men during a surge in menswear interest.

In the NBA, basketball teams tap into this trend, leveraging their players' influence to engage fans through shopping stores. These stores not only sell popular sportswear but also aim to bolster fandom. However, the landscape of shopping is rapidly evolving. Physical stores, while still popular, are becoming less relevant as people increasingly opt for online shopping.

Considering global shopping trends, most stores are transitioning into online shopping websites, simplifying the purchasing process. Yet, even though online shopping is currently in vogue, trends constantly evolve. The question arises: What will online shopping look like in 10 years? What will be the next big trend? Will it be the same e-commerce websites with endless product lists?

These questions sparked innovation within the Charlotte Hornets, an NBA team based in North Carolina. Seeking to elevate their fan engagement beyond traditional means and revolutionize the NBA shopping experience, the Hornets envisioned creating an immersive shopping venture for their fans. Their idea? The Hornets Virtual Fan Shop, mirroring the physical shop at Spectrum Center in Charlotte. Here, fans could shop in a digital replica of the Hornets' store and even create lifelike avatars to personalize their shopping experience.

To bring this vision to life, the Hornets turned to MeetKai, an AI technology company specializing in building immersive experiences through the metaverse. This endeavor was huge ask for MeetKai, demanding not only metaverse creation but also enabling fans to express themselves through realistic avatars—a critical element of the experience. Avaturn, being leader in realistic avatars, naturally partnered with MeetKai for this venture.

Utilizing AI-powered digital twin technology, MeetKai crafted a digital replica of the physical Hornets Fan Shop at Spectrum Center. Avaturn facilitated the inclusion of a wide range of Hornets merchandise in the virtual experience. Our new asset manager—a no-code tool—streamlines the process of integrating brands into virtual environments. The intuitive interface and drag-and-drop functionality enabled MeetKai to seamlessly upload Hornet merchandise, logos, colors, and visual elements into the virtual world, bringing the entire Hornets virtual store to life.

Interested in Avaturn's subdomain and asset manager? Try it out yourself! Avaturn Developer Portal Avaturn's avatar creation process is not only user-friendly but also seamlessly integrable. Take a few selfies, customize them to your preference, and voila! An avatar ready to be incorporated into games, the metaverse, or any AR/VR experience.

Create your avatar now!

Simplifying the avatar creation process is crucial for any metaverse experience. Avaturn provided MeetKai with a solution, allowing fans to scan a QR code, leading to creation of an avatar. Within minutes, fans were in the store, ready to shop.

Another pivotal aspect of an immersive shopping experience is enabling customers to try on garments across diverse body types virtually. Avaturn's AI-powered asset management system played a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity and reducing workload. By uploading each garment once, MeetKai utilized Avaturn's AI capabilities to automatically simulate the garment on different body types. This innovative approach ensured representation for every user in the virtual environment, fostering connection and engagement.

Finally, as part of the virtual shopping experience, Hornets fans could transform themselves into realistic 3D avatars. These avatars could roam, shop, and interact with other fans in a space designed to replicate the energy of an in-person game day. Before making purchases, they could browse aisles, explore racks, and virtually try on apparel and accessories. Products bought through the virtual fan shop were conveniently delivered to fans' homes.

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