A Metaverse is a concept that’s taking the world by storm. It’s seemingly a vantage point of multiple existing and emerging technologies that can be adopted at scale by consumers and brands alike. The Metaverse isn’t a standalone concept or innovation. It’s a blend of new-age innovations: AR, VR, NFTs, Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, to name a few. As these innovations come together to create unique virtual spaces that offer real-time and real-life experiences, we’ll see them transform elements of commerce, governance, and trade in a big way.
With Metaverse, the possibility is of an ever-expanding network of shared and interactive spaces that could function as an add-on to the existing digital sales channels, further becoming ecosystems in their own right. This is where the e-commerce experience is likely to change entirely and forever because digital commerce and trading in digital products are two different concepts. NFTs and blockchain frameworks will pave the way for new forms of commerce, markets, and digital ownership.
At its core, Metaverse owns a fundamental principle of ‘interoperability’ – transfer, ownership, and exchange of information and/ or products from one platform to another.
Convenience and access that bridge the gap between online and offline purchasing will go a step further with Metaverse as it will dilute that very gap in a robust way. Buyers can experience products as their digital versions called avatars, they can personalize their preferences and interests just like real individuals. These avatars can be used to practically create anything – from games to concerts, to work or shopping mechanisms that connect a story, a brand, and a product in creative ways.
Let’s also know that all these technologies and concepts are flustered with very few regulatory provisions. As adoption grows and penetration increases, we’ll see a lot more personalization, customization, and habit formation happening along the way. What Metaverse will do is allow buyers to be more confident about the quality and fit of the products and solutions before purchasing them.
Retail in the Metaverse: What Brands Need to Consider?
● Creating an immersive virtual showroom
● Explore a multilayered offering for customers that’s not limited by a channel, format, or device.
● Explore storytelling to sell in interactive, shoppable, and deeply connected formats.
● Invest in technology and build e-commerce experiences with omnichannel content.
● Fine-tune content to gain more prominence as the 5G rollout accelerates and AR/VR setups start to take the lead. Amping up the hosting infrastructure can help streamline new content types and ensure the seamless performance of the same.
● Long texts are no longer acceptable. 3D is all about offering a captivating visual experience that feels natural. Hence, thoughtfully building digital assets along with sound to offer a holistic experience.
● Choose platforms wisely. Moving away from 2D to 3D calls for technical prowess that doesn’t match the ones you consider for web apps.
● NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) will help brands offer new digital products. NFTs can also be extended to offer receipts, invitations, and early access to product launches.
● Gamification and entertainment could become a haven for brands to keep users engaged via rewards and loyalty programs.
● Community building efforts can be amplified as brands are better positioned to generate customer reviews and cross-branding opportunities.
The Building Blocks of Metaverse: Augmenting the Sense of Presence
– Gamification – The earliest reference to the Metaverse came in the early 1970s. Gamification is where alternative worlds existed long before now. It will continue to entertain, educate and create a plethora of experiences, products, and services for various domains.
– NFTs – No more a fad, NFTs will offer us a virtually interconnected world that replicates our physical world and turn that into a verifiable economic/ business model that can run parallel to the conventional ones – across sectors.
– AR (Augmented Reality)- It blends the computer-generated world into the real world. It’s already embedded in consumers’ shopping habits and will unlock a wealth of applications across industries, functions, and experiences. For example, interactions on smartphone apps.
– VR (Virtual Reality) – Immerses users into a completely computer-generated world – experienced in 3D. For example, AltspaceVR allows users to create or attend an array of virtual events. Users can customize their avatars, environments, and sounds to suit their needs bringing everyone who was once many moons apart closer to just a few inches.
– XR (Extended Reality) – A macro term used to describe perceptions that are purely computer-generated.
– MR (Mixed Reality) – Not very far from AR, it allows users to interact with virtual objects through the eye and hand tracking. For example, Microsoft Mesh. Here users can adapt and manipulate holographic virtual objects
Companies that lie at the intersection of these layers will benefit unreasonably and so will entities that stand on platform-agnostic business models. Because of its potential to build a parallel economy, the combination of these building blocks is set to offer us a larger, decentralized, and omnipresent architecture of interactive capabilities unfolding a self-sovereign world before us.
Even though e-commerce has already adopted technologies relating to the Metaverse, e.g., Amazon, these technologies are at an evolving stage and will unfold a world of Metaverses before us that will alter how people engage with brands, shop, and make their buying decisions. For e-commerce brands and marketers, to be more precise, it’s a hybrid model to showcase their offerings, become truly omnichannel and strengthen their customer relationships. To conclude, the Metaverse is like a canvas where brands can write or rewrite their stories better.