The metaverse might be the most significant technological development since mobile internet. Proponents claim it is the future of work, education, entertainment, and, of course, shopping. In fact, for the ecommerce industry, signs of this virtual reality are already here.
As a brand or retailer, what does this mean? Is the metaverse just a buzzword? Is it already too late to start selling digital goods in the virtual world?
Let’s take a look at ecommerce in the metaverse, how we got here, and where it’s headed.
What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual universe accessed with Virtual Reality goggles. Users create avatars (3D depictions of themselves) to navigate the digital world around them. It sounds like a video game, but the metaverse is far more immersive and ambitious than other online simulations we have seen to date.
In the metaverse, avatars spend real money on virtual goods. Everything from clothing and cosmetics, to real estate and billboards, are up for grabs. All that’s needed is a crypto wallet and you’re ready to go.
Major retail brands have embraced the concept. Nike, Gucci, Estee Lauder, and Samsung are just a few that have an established presence in the metaverse.
In addition to virtual goods, some brands use the metaverse to sell products that are delivered in the real world. McDonald’s, for example, plans to create virtual restaurants where users place orders for in-person delivery, all without removing their headset.
How Did We Get Here?
The retail industry is no stranger to progress and innovation. Mainstream ecommerce has only been around since the 1990s. In a relatively short period, the industry progressed from slow-loading (and sometimes barely functioning) online marketplaces, to intelligent, personalized online shopping experiences.
Advances in technology continue to change the way we shop. Social media transformed product discovery and online advertising, and live shopping – where products are showcased and sold via live stream – is projected to generate $25 billion in US sales by 2023.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already widely used as ecommerce sales tools. AR, which allows shoppers to preview products in their chosen environment, is popular for goods like home furnishings. Meanwhile, VR imitates the in-store experience with a digital showroom and is used to sell everything from apparel to cars.
It seems the metaverse could be the next phase in the retail industry’s evolution.
What is the Future of Shopping in the Metaverse?
The metaverse takes existing ecommerce trends and blends them into a fully immersive experience. Customers interact with sales associates, shop with friends, see realistic sizes and dimensions of products, and try on clothes with a 360 view.
In addition to the novelty the metaverse provides, virtual shopping offers an important benefit: it’s more accessible than in-store shopping. This makes it easier to navigate than traditional ecommerce for customers of different abilities.
So, what advice is out there for brands who want to explore the metaverse? Start with small steps now so you’re positioned to embrace it when the time is right:
Take Inspiration From Early Adopters
Before launching a branded presence, familiarize yourself with how other retailers are selling in the metaverse.
Think About Your Offering
The metaverse isn’t one-size-fits-all. Consider how your products translate in a virtual universe. Do you simply sell physical goods for real-world delivery? Should you design virtual products for customer avatars? Or is your brand better for gaming and shopper experiences?
Upgrade Your Tech Stack
Metaverse aside, investment in ecommerce technology is always worthwhile. The right tech stack keeps businesses agile and ready to adapt to emerging opportunities. Plus, it equips you to optimize the shopper experience, build loyalty, and learn from customer behavior.
The metaverse is certainly something to keep in mind for long-term strategy, but there’s plenty of time to prepare. Almost half of consumers said they hadn’t heard of the metaverse in one 2022 survey, while only 5% identified as enthusiastic users.
Create Immersive Shopping Experiences Now So You’re Better Prepared for Shopping in the Metaverse
Interested in creating more personalized shopping experiences? Want to build more meaningful relationships with your customers?
Don’t wait until the metaverse becomes mainstream. Contact us today to learn about Searchspring’s site search, product merchandising, and personalization & recommendations platform built exclusively for ecommerce.