The future of online retail in the metaverse
At the moment, the majority of Internet users perceive the metaverse as a virtual space in which they can communicate, interact and exchange ideas with other users. Most people are also familiar with terms such as NFTs and virtual marketplaces, but the potential that trading in the metaverse will harbour goes far beyond this. Since the invention of the internet, the e-commerce sector has evolved to provide customers with a fast and convenient online shopping experience. Getting the product delivered the next day or even the same day with just one click is one way to make shopping online easier. But what if you can try out and use a product at the same time as clicking on it? We are not even that far away from it, because the Metaverse will make it possible.
How the metaverse will change the online shopping experience
The metaverse as a new communication channel has great potential to catapult e-commerce trade one step further towards efficiency. In the near future, we may already be moving away from the classic pattern of clicking and buying towards “experiencing and buying”. The use of AR and VR technologies in the metaverse will allow us to virtually try out a product before actually making a purchase decision.
The British IT research company Gartner predicts that by 2026, at least a quarter of all internet users will be using the metaverse for work, education, shopping, entertainment or social media.
The reason why the Metaverse will be a milestone for online retail is the combination of classic e-commerce and stationary retail. The speed and convenience of online shops coupled with the personalised experience of a real visit to the shop will manifest itself through so-called “metaverse commerce”.
The first concepts of a meta trade
Some YouTube users will be familiar with the video that the American retailer Walmart published in 2017. It shows the prototype of a virtual supermarket visit. Shopping in the Metaverse is thus moving away from the concept of a static product website and moving closer to the idea of real experiences in the form of 3D modelled showrooms that can be walked through in the Metaverse as in real life. Metaverse Commerce is therefore intended to bridge the gap between immersive physical retail and the convenience of online shopping. Users in the Metaverse will therefore be able to walk through a virtual shop as they would in reality, and all from the comfort of their own home.
What can we expect from e-commerce in the Metaverse?
Just as in the case of WebAR for product presentation on static websites, a reduction in return rates can also be expected here. The principle is the same: By giving customers the opportunity to try out a product virtually before they even buy it. This is especially true for products that are difficult to judge how they will look in real life or whether they will fit into your own home, including products such as furniture, decoration, fashion, shoes and cosmetics.
Shopping in the Metaverse enables a shopping experience for customers all over the world. Better insights into consumer behaviour can also be guaranteed. By offering their products virtually for customers to try out, manufacturers and suppliers can measure how a new product is received by customers. Not only does this make testing easier, it may also save manufacturers unnecessary production costs. From this, you can quickly draw conclusions about how far market penetration with the product can and should go.
Further studies have shown that customers are even more willing to pay for products that can be tested using 3D or augmented reality technologies. This aspect is also guaranteed when shopping thanks to the Metaverse and its advanced visualisation options.
Last but not least, greater involvement with branded products should not be neglected. As an online retailer, you can use the metaverse for customer loyalty. Such a virtual marketplace makes it much easier and more numerous to build relationships with customers and interested parties than in normal online trading.
The natural evolution of e-commerce
Just as online shopping has been established by the rapid increase in internet usage over the last three decades, metaverse commerce is the logical next step in this evolution. It will play an important role in consumers’ lives by making purchasing experiences and decisions more efficient, faster and, above all, more innovative. As a result, the boundary between social media and e-commerce is becoming increasingly blurred. Building communities, especially in the context of the NFT industry, will become increasingly important and the metaverse will prove itself as a means of interacting with brands and companies. The links between the real and digital worlds will blur as long as new technologies continue to develop until online shopping is transferred entirely to the metaverse at some point.
If you would like to find out more about trading in the Metaverse, book a free consultation with Manuel Messner, the AR-VR e-commerce expert.