Hope that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers”.
Even though Facebook isn’t the first company to announce a metaverse, the announcement raises an important question about the future of the internet; how will e-commerce be carried out in the metaverse?
The metaverse will make purchasing for consumers a significantly more straightforward process, according to tech futurist Cathy Hackle.
According to Hackle, virtual reality purchasing can be entailed as, “Imagine yourself walking down the street. Suddenly, a product pops into your head. Next to you appears a vending machine full of the product and variations you were considering. You stop, pick an item from the vending machine, it is shipped to your house, and you continue on your way.”
Metaverse, or the Spatial Web/Web 3.0, is poised to eliminate the current boundary between digital and physical content. Despite appearing like science fiction, the technologies that underpin this paradigm shift are already commonplace.
So, could the metaverse take the place of the internet as we know it? If so, what impact would that have on online-only spaces like eCommerce?
This article will explore some of the ways eCommerce is leveraging the principles of virtual connectivity in the newly minted metaverse.
METAVERSE: What exactly is it?:
Consumers and brands have trouble grasping the concept of the metaverse. Metaverses do not yet exist, at least not in the sense that people like Mark Zuckerberg envision.
Like many emerging technologies, the notion of the metaverse has no universal definition.
As opposed to being a single innovation, the metaverse is an extension of several technologies that have been readily adopted by consumers.
It’s the convergence of these innovations – AR, VR, blockchain, cryptocurrency, social commerce, just to name a few – that creates a network of virtual spaces interacting in real-time, which serve not only as new channels for selling but also as a form of e-commerce.
With technology such as 3D, AR, VR, AI, and 5G, a digital twin of the real world will be created, fully rendered in life-like virtual environments.
This makes it possible for every object, store, conversation, image, and even space itself to seamlessly integrate into the metaverse, where it can be enhanced through 3D or augmented reality, or explored and personalized.
Brands can use the metaverse not just to replicate what exists in the physical world but to address newfound needs and challenges that are unique to digital spaces.
What makes up the metaverse?
Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
6 out of 10 consumers say they prefer making purchases from sites that incorporate Augmented Reality (AR). Despite its sci-fi image, AR/VR is already integrated into consumer behavior.
Due to their many uses across the shopping experience, AR and VR are becoming increasingly important to merchants who sell products that are traditionally difficult to buy online.
Amazon’s marketplace features early metaverse technology. Room Decorator, its newest AR shopping tool, lets you view how furniture, walls, and other home décor will look in your space using your smartphone or tablet. Multiple products can be viewed together, and even an AR snapshot of your room can be saved for later use.
Consumers can make better-informed buying decisions with the assistance of AR’s product visualization capabilities.
The fact that the Collins Dictionary chose Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as the word of the year for 2021 seems hardly surprising because of the hype surrounding this technology.
Fashion has become a blockchain-based digital asset, as have memes and popular collectibles, and there is so much more to come.
Blockchain helps to assure authenticity, verifiability, and exclusive ownership of all digital assets, including art, clothing, a LeBron James photo, and even experiences themselves. As a result, NFTs are indeed unique and limited assets, and therefore can hold value.
Despite the complexity of NFTs, it is their foolproof method of authentication that makes them a core building block of the metaverse. Besides facilitating transactions, NFTs are capable of creating new digital goods that enhance value propositions for both brands and consumers alike.
Virtual environments, such as those found in video games, are normally the first thing that comes to mind when we think of immersive digital environments. Consumers are drawn to gamification because it blends risk with reward. Risks and rewards grow as we move forward.
In addition, Roblox is on track to become a leading player in the transition to the metaverse. Among the platforms that contain a variety of online worlds, Roblox is probably the best example.
Avatars can be customized across all Roblox games, and players can accessorize them as well.
Custom accessories have already spawned an in-game economy. As part of its collaboration with Gucci, Roblox recently hosted a virtual in-game experience. Several Gucci branded items were available in-game, with one virtual Gucci handbag even selling for $4,115.
eCommerce in the Metaverse:
In his own words, Zuckerberg has made it explicit that the digital revolution will revolve around shopping and commerce.
The metaverse will remove many of the physical constraints we see on commerce today and make entirely new businesses possible’
Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP
As the paradigm shift is so huge, it can be difficult to imagine its implications and applications in the real world. However, they are already happening. Furniture and other products are being visualized in consumers’ homes as part of the purchase process. Retailers can offer their customers a more engaging sales experience and consumers can customize their purchases before making a purchase with three-dimensional models.
Each side is already reaping the benefits. When it comes to making purchases online, consumers care about convenience, confidence, and control. Similarly, retailers are seeing considerable returns on their investments, as well as cost savings and sustainability benefits.
Through the metaverse, eCommerce businesses will be able to personalize their offerings for consumers.
Couldn’t it be wonderful if all of your customers were invited to the launch of your new line?
The digital advantage of the metaverse will make all this possible.
Payment services are anticipating a huge benefit from the metaverse because people won’t be paying cash in a digital world.
In only a few moments, you can discover, personalize, and buy products from the comfort of your home. With the metaverse, eCommerce companies will be able to offer their customers more without having to charge them more.
The metaverse may also provide users with tools for creating their own virtual stores and earning commission on physical products they are selling. Metaverse will offer new opportunities for entrepreneurship and represent the next step in e-commerce and retail, according to TCI entertainment.
A digital franchise of a real-world retailer has also been proposed as a possibility for those using the metaverse. Virtual shelves can be stocked with products that users may be interested in buying.
Kevin Indig, Director of Shopify, a multinational e-commerce platform, believes the metaverse will help decentralize e-commerce. The decentralized e-commerce model breaks away from uniform marketplace formats, allowing brands to virtualize the shopping experience, further paralleling in-store and home shopping.
The corporate world has already begun to realize these opportunities. Mastercard estimates that the global augmented and mixed reality market will grow 54% over the next decade, reaching $372 billion by 2026.
As purchasing becomes an even more accessible process for consumers, we may soon see the emergence of new forms of e-commerce that are mainstream.
Using Ikea’s Studio app, customers can create their own spaces using augmented reality technology. There is an entire line of virtual cosmetics from L’Oréal.
Additionally, Gucci has launched its Gucci Virtual 25 sneakers, designed by designer Alessandro Michele, for $12.99 per pair.
Each of these is a small step in the direction of the Metaverse regardless of the limitations of the technology and protocols we use today. It will take time and incremental growth to bring about a tipping point, much as the internet did.
Is the metaverse headed for a bright future? In the metaverse, we are uncertain whether we can ever physically ‘walk’ in and be present in a different world.
Companies like Meta must build out the architecture for creating an open-source standard if they are going to contribute to the development of the metaverse.
In fact, smart brands will begin buying virtual real estate and procuring builders to build their brand presence and experiences in virtual worlds, where they will sell both digital and physical products to consumers who split their time between multiple worlds.
The legacy internet will turn into a ghetto for lagged brands and organizations in the real world.