Since Mark Zuckerberg’s decision at the end of 2021 to rename the Facebook group Meta, a new digital era has started with the metaverse. In an economy where e-commerce is constantly gaining market share, the opportunities offered by this 3D Internet universe are unlimited.
What is the metaverse?
Climbing Mount Everest through a virtual reality headset or having a meeting with colleagues in a digitally recreated office… The metaverse promises to push the boundaries of the physical world until the real and virtual worlds eventually merge.
It’s a bit tricky to define the metaverse since it doesn’t exist yet. However, the best way to conceptualize it would be to say that it is the coming together of several ever-expanding technological innovations that work together to provide an immersive experience with 3D rendering using avatars. From NFT to social commerce to augmented reality to virtual reality, the metaverse brings technology out of the digital and into the physical world.
The metaverse is not only a place where brands can replicate what exists in the physical world but also a place where they can go further by addressing new needs and challenges unique to digital spaces.
Merging online and offline commerce
Ever since the term “omnichannel” became a major concept in the retail industry, brands have been striving to create cohesive experiences between e-commerce, stores, and social media.
However, this is much easier said than done. Trying to cater to every conceivable shopping journey requires advanced technological resources and total data alignment across every touchpoint, something that even large retailers have struggled to coordinate effectively. That’s where the metaverse will step in to break the gap between online and offline channels.
E-commerce giant Amazon, for example, has integrated early metaverse technologies into its marketplace. Its latest AR shopping tool, Room Decorator, allows you to use your phone or tablet to see what furniture and other decorative items will look like in your space. You can view multiple products together and even save screenshots of your room to review later.
In addition, augmented reality technology allows consumers to have complete confidence in the quality and form of a product before they purchase it. This helps shoppers from a practical standpoint and merchants reduce returns and expand their customer base. Warby Parker, for example, has a virtual fitting app that allows you to try on every pair of glasses in its catalog before you buy them.
As these emerging technologies develop, they will continue to reshape the way we think about e-commerce from a “click and buy” approach to “experience and buy.” This will allow metaverse customers to “walk around” a store, view product displays and make purchases as they normally would, all from the comfort of their homes. It’s a unique fusion of the immersive nature of physical commerce and the ease of online shopping.
The metaverse and e-commerce: what to expect?
The metaverse has the potential to improve current e-commerce practices and create unique experiences for customers. Here are some concepts that the metaverse will revolutionize:
Personalization in e-commerce is often limited to product recommendations or discounts. In the metaverse, brands offer their customers hyper-personalized experiences without worrying about the multiple boundaries of the physical world.
Reduced return rates:
Creating virtual experiences will become essential for merchants who sell products that have traditionally been difficult to buy online and typically experience high return rates, such as home furnishings, cosmetics, shoes, and ready-to-wear.
Studies show that consumers are willing to pay up to 40% more for a product that can be tested in 3D. With advanced product visualization capabilities in the metaverse, consumers will be able to make more informed purchasing decisions, which could lead to increased profits.
By allowing customers to actively participate in your brand’s actions, you can build a closer relationship that is in line with what fans expect from your brand. You can launch an exclusive product in the metaverse, only available to your most passionate fans who pay to get that product.
Better understanding of customers:
The goal of marketing is to understand your customers. Marketers create content to keep their customers interested. Imagine how exciting it would be to have people discover and interact with a virtual collection. The metaverse will allow brands to test the potential success of their products without making them. If customers like the products they discover in the virtual world, then brands will know how much to produce.
In the metaverse, digital experiences that are close to reality will be created, unlike the 2D interface of traditional e-commerce experiences. The metaverse has the potential to bridge the gap between e-commerce and in-store shopping experiences. Addressing this is important because, according to a recent Shopkick study, 70% of consumers consider the ability to try, touch, and see physical products to be their favorite aspect of the in-store experience.
Creating a true customer journey in the metaverse won’t be a matter of duplicating your retail or online store into a virtual store. Instead, leaders building this new form of commerce will need to think outside the box and seize the opportunity to create a brand experience with their communities. If you need support for your e-commerce site, don’t hesitate to contact Eminence.