BNPL provider Afterpay is bringing its newly launched online platform The DROPSHOP — which offers merchandise exclusives to BNPL customers — into the real world with a two-day immersive experience in New York City’s Times Square.
On Sept. 7 and 8, Afterpay will host an IRL drop experience integrating augmented reality technology from social media company Snap that will allow consumers to try items on and experience virtual worlds.
Afterpay and Snap have taken three iconic New York objects — a taxi, a fire hydrant and a food truck — and “illuminated” them in Bondi Mint, Afterpay’s exclusive Pantone color. Beginning Sept. 1, the objects will be placed in key locations around Manhattan, each with a Snapcode that will unlock an immersive AR 3D map to reveal the DROPSHOP location, along with several other exclusive points of interest for the NY Fashion Week program that Afterpay is hosting for consumers.
When customers step inside The DROPSHOP, they’ll be in a fully immersive experience that transports them into the drop world. From within, customers can activate the Snapchat AR try-on-experiences and tap to buy directly from their mobile phone. As part of the event, Afterpay has teamed up with Crocs and JD Sports to release two limited-edition drops in collaboration with popular creators:
- Crocs and social media star Bretman “Da Baddest” Rock will reveal an exclusive collection of Jibbitz charms, available in limited pre-release quantities at the Times Square DROPSHOP experience. Fans can use Snapchat to virtually try on the charms on a pair of Crocs beginning Sept. 1 using a new Afterpay Lens that will launch on the social media platform.
- JD Sports has commissioned multi-disciplinary artist Glassface to create a rare digital art non-fungible token (NFT) titled “Enter New Worlds.” Only 50 of the NFTs will be created.
“Fashion and apparel have always been at the forefront of immersive AR commerce, and Afterpay’s DROPSHOP is helping propel the industry forward,” said Nina Mishkin, Director of Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. in a statement. “Together at this year’s New York Fashion Week, Afterpay, Crocs, JD and Snap are truly leveraging augmented reality to create innovative brand experiences that ultimately take the traditional experiential to the next level.”
Consumer adoption of BNPL services has skyrocketed in the last year: In July 2020, 38% of U.S. adults had used a BNPL service, and by March 2021 that number increased to 56%, according to The Motley Fool.
As buy now, pay later services rise to prominence in the U.S., providers like Afterpay are looking for an edge in the midst of a current “land grab,” as David Sykes, North America head at fellow BNPL solution Klarna called it. “Twelve months from now there will not be a major retailer that’s not offering buy now, pay later,” he said in an interview with The Information.
In August 2021 alone, Afterpay was acquired by payments provider Square, Amazon teamed up with Affirm to roll out BNPL for select U.S. customers, IKEA owner Ingka Group invested $22.5 million in BNPL start-up Jifiti and online marketplace Mercari partnered with Zip Co. to offer BNPL to its customers. Kaleido Intelligence estimates that the BNPL market will reach $680 billion globally by 2025, with Klarna, Affirm and PayPal leading the field worldwide.