What the Metaverse Mean for Retailers?
Facebook Inc. converted to Meta with a rebranding strategy, a complete name change and introduced us to their new version of a “parallel universe” called the Metaverse.
This term has been used a lot lately. But what does it really mean? And how will it affect the retail industry? Is “see you in Metaverse” a new catchphrase for retail? There have been many questions since the announcement. Facebook boasts 2.74 trillion monthly active users and is the only social media platform that offers this level of marketing reach to retailers.
This article will explain a little bit about the Metaverse and what you can expect from it in terms of retail and consumer experience.
What is the Metaverse?
It is difficult to explain the Metaverse and all its peculiar intricacies. This is due to the fact that there isn’t a lot of information and it is not yet available. It is basically a virtual world powered augmented reality, 3D technology and virtual reality. You can interact with others, learn from them, work together, exercise and many other things in the Metaverse.
Mark Zuckerberg showed the Metaverse at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference. You can see it.
Experts believe that we are still at least 10 years away from any type of Metaverse product and service. However, companies are actively working to create this parallel reality that will be different from the virtual reality we know. The Metaverse will be able to exist at all times, and not just as a virtual reality game. It is, in other words, a completely different world that you can engage in for as long or little as you like.
Virtual and Augmented Reality are gaining popularity
Many retailers have joined the 3D/augmented/virtual realities revolution. There have been many outstanding advances in this area. Many large companies have developed apps that allow customers to see their products in their homes or on their phones. The power of augmented reality gives shopping an entirely new dimension.
Consumer interest in AR has been growing over time. As more companies integrate these technologies into their business strategies, the interest is increasing. In fact, 66% say AR is a key feature for them when making purchases. Many want to see how the product fits in their lives before they shop online.
E-commerce has seen a significant increase in popularity and advancement since the pandemic. These virtual/augmented technologies are a great way for retailers to tap into e-commerce and create an omni channel shopping experience that combines digital and physical worlds.
What could the Metaverse do for the retail industry?
The Metaverse is a new virtual world that you can engage in. As such, when it comes down to retail, think of virtual stores, malls and company branding opportunities. This is still in development and it is impossible to predict how the public will react. If it succeeds, however, the Metaverse could allow for online shopping x1000.
Online shopping is not as tangible as in-store shopping because it is limited by our devices screens. While e-commerce sales in Canada are expected to grow over the next few years, many people still enjoy the feeling of walking into a store to see/engage with the product(s). Online shopping is a convenient option that many consumers appreciate. Therefore, when retailers combine in store experience with digital elements, it’s possible to better serve your customers.
The Metaverse Mean for Retailers in all its virtual glory can offer that combination to consumers. Users can interact with products they are interested in purchasing in real time using their personalized avatar. A company can create a virtual storefront on the Metaverse. Users can then walk around the store and see what products they are interested in, interact with other users, learn more about the products, and make a purchase. This creates a new shopping experience that will change consumer behaviour and also flips the traditional notions of physical and virtual shops.
The idea of a direct to avatar business model is also presented. This idea is not far-fetched. What clothes will avatars wear? This clothing will one day have the same significance as what we wear now in real life. These questions will be answered over many years, but it is possible to purchase clothing and products using real money through a virtual avatar.
This means that retailers will need to establish a positive Metaverse Mean for Retailers presence, and translate the online and in-store experience into a virtual one. This could include purchasing virtual real property, hiring experts to digitally design the storefront, items sold, and ensuring that there is enough inventory for those who purchase from the Metaverse.
As the Metaverse is still a “to-be continued” situation, retailers should not be trying to create virtual stores or avatar-fitting sweaters. It is worth thinking about how your brand can integrate 3D/augmented/virtual realities offerings. The popularity of this technology is growing, regardless of whether the Metaverse comes to life.
Retailing in Metaverse
Metaverse Mean for Retailers many people who see the Metaverse as a place where shopping will take place. This vision is likely to be shortsighted. It would be unimaginative to simply transfer industrial-age shopping concepts and conventions into the Metaverse. The Metaverse will enable us to move beyond the industrial function and form of physical shops and offer a new level of shopping experience.
Imagine a Canada Goose shop in a virtual version. But why would you create one when I can buy a Canada Goose coat inside an Arctic exploration adventure led by Lance Mackey, Iditarod champion. The garment’s technical qualities and performance can be seen first hand. I can then order the garment and have it delivered directly to my home. I can purchase my new car on Metaverse. Not from a static showroom of cars, but while enjoying an adrenaline-pumping drive on the track of my choice. I can have beauty advice given by a personal advisor I access from the Metaverse in my living room. We live in a world that offers every experience, so why would we continue to use the industrial-era retail model as our template? Marketers, store designers and merchandisers will need to rethink what a “store” means.
Most of us will spend our time in the Metaverse, socialising, learning and working. Some people may prefer to spend all of their time in the Metaverse, seeing the real world as boring, limited, and inefficient. As we spend more time in the Metaverse, our virtual possessions will grow exponentially. Who wants to wear the exact same outfit to two different virtual parties on the same weekend?
As we spend more time in Metaverse, status symbols such as the virtual home you have, the virtual clothes and jewellery that you wear, and the virtual cosmetics that you use will be just as important as real-world possessions and purchases. Brands will capitalize on this demand and create a growing number of virtual products at realistic-world prices. The Metaverse’s ability to allow for more time than the real world may be considered a status symbol.
Although no one knows the answer, experts agree that the Metaverse is a necessary step in the convergence between technology and humanity, and an evolutionary melding of reality and virtuality. While the Metaverse will take many decades to build, organisations working to create that future will make increasingly large investments now and in the days ahead.
Scuti is an example of a startup that focuses on “bringing to light the world’s first online retail marketplace through games” and allowing brands to sell directly to gamers. Obsess is another start up creating CGI environments and experiences to major fashion and beauty brands. Ikea and other companies have already used augmented reality technology to enable customers to design their spaces with its Studio app. L’Oreal, a beauty giant, has created a whole line of virtual cosmetics. Gucci launched its Gucci Virtual 25 sneakers for $12.99 each. It was designed by Alessandro Michele (Gucci creative director).
Smart brands will invest in virtual property and hire builders to build their brand presence and experience. They will then sell digital products to consumers who have their lives split between the two worlds. Laggard brands will remain stuck in the real world, and worse, will find themselves in the ghetto of the legacy internet.
Growth In Metaverse:
Although each of these is limited by the protocols and technologies we use today, it’s a small step towards the Metaverse. As with the internet, growth will be slow and gradual until enough infrastructure, developers, and users create a tipping point.