According to Gartner, a quarter of the population will spend at least an hour a day in the Metaverse for work, education, shopping, social media, and entertainment by 2026. The Metaverse is, so to speak, access to a digital parallel world where people meet virtually.
Metaverse technologies are still in their early stages, but one day things like buying digital products, building virtual homes, or attending virtual social events in the Metaverse could become normal. As you can imagine, by then there will be many ways how companies could monetize the Metaverse as well, like e.g.:
- Selling clothing and accessories for online avatars
- Selling digital land and construction of virtual houses
- Selling digital art, collectibles and assets (NFTs)
- Developing new markets through presence in virtual shopping centers
- Digitally interacting with people in new hire onboarding, customer service, sales and other business interactions.
With Web 3.0, new attractive retail options are emerging, as the Nike x RTFKT AR Hoodie example shows. The fashion label and the IT developer studio for Web3 applications present a collection of NFTs on the digital wardrobe and expanded to include a new hoodie collection that can be experienced as a hybrid, meaning an implanted chip in the physical version of the hoodie interacts with the digital counterpart. An additional Augmented Reality (AR) component literally gives the worn garment wings if desired, which gives the owners of these rare Genesis hoodies a unique virtual perception. It proves that those going strong with clever developments and concepts have opportunities for new sources of income and clever marketing of their own products.
After all, shopping is increasingly about the overall experience: 71% of all users familiar with AR applications state that they would go shopping more often if it were supported by AR experiences. Products displayed three-dimensionally with AR technology help customers to better visualize the goods they want and allows to make a more conscious purchasing decision. This leads to fewer product returns and heightened satisfaction.
So, obviously, there is already more behind the buzzword “Metaverse” than many are aware of. Web 3.0 and the underlying key technologies are not just about gaming, but much more about a development that affects numerous industries and their players. Identifying and activating this potential is a challenge, because not everything is obvious and requires an open mindset and the will to innovate.
Given this, immense possibilities can be explored in the Metaverse, as the following list of benefits for businesses using the Metaverse for eCommerce seeks to demonstrate:
First-party advantage: The Metaverse enables new opportunities for marketing and advertising. Since the concept is still in its infancy, companies that establish a presence now can be at the forefront of their industry as again Nike did splendidly with NIKELAND, a 3D space on the gaming platform Roblox where players can collect points that can be exchanged for digital clothing. Since the younger generations are growing up increasingly digitally networked, companies need to explore new types of experiences, such as virtual games, to be appealing to the new generation of consumers.
Improved customer care: The ability to interact with digital products and other people in a virtual 3D space has the potential to take customers' interaction and perception of brands and products to a new level and opens up new possibilities for successful customer care. Such an immersive product experience can have a strong impact on customers' purchasing decisions. Additionally, Non-Playing Characters (NPCs) in the Metaverse can assist with customer support, with their primarily narrative, automated function. Customers can use them to talk and do business at any time of the day.
Market research for personalization and growth: Because the Metaverse is purely data-driven, the platform can provide data on user retention, which is particularly valuable for business growth. And since the Metaverse allows for richer data collection, businesses can customize their marketing campaigns based on consumer data and preferences. Through such personalized campaigns, companies in the metaverse can increase their chances that users will have a positive customer experience and purchase the product.
Stronger customer relationships: Referrals from other customers are a very effective form of marketing. The opportunity for consumers to actively participate in and shape a brand's activities without logistical and geographic limitations in the metaverse enables e-commerce companies to create a symbiotic relationship with their customers.
But since every application is optimized today to be as stimulating as possible and to keep the user's attention, if possible, concerns about consumer addiction and manipulation and control by technology companies, cybercriminals or others are cropping up.
Data security is another key concern that requires basic rules to protect user information as the data is very close to physical reality. However, several factors make regulation by the legislature difficult: for example, the rapid development of technologies or the balancing act between deciding which of the regulations restricting freedom of expression on the Internet are still considered democratic. Investing in cyber security is certainly an important requirement to avoid counterfeiting, hacked avatars, data breaches and cyberattacks.
Even if the concrete realization of the Metaverse is still in the future, a lot of work is already being done on the technology side to lay the foundations for the virtual parallel world.
On the one hand, the metaverse concept offers companies a multitude of advantages for their marketing measures, but on the other hand it also harbors many hurdles and open questions. As such, organizations must weigh the pros and cons and decide what they are willing to do to unleash the potential of the Metaverse.
By Daniela La Marca