New technologies have wrought fundamental changes throughout society. Offering the same real-world exclusivity with the unprecedented convenience of e-commerce, the metaverse is bound to increase customer engagement and online sales.
It is pivotal for e-commerce businesses to look into the future, and with the hype around virtual reality (VR), artificial reality (AR), and 3D visualisations, there is a new frontier that has taken the world by storm — the metaverse. Riding on the popularity of online shopping and considering the importance of improving customer service, the metaverse is expected to unveil opportunities that e-commerce retailers will benefit from. As brands, like Nike, create their own virtual reality platforms to elevate customer experiences, this new reality of virtual goods and entertainment that merges with the world of brick-and-mortar stores and online shopping will redefine e-commerce forever. But what is the metaverse and how will it revolutionise e-commerce today?
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is a virtual reality/augmented reality world that shifts technology in the digital arena into the tangible world we reside in. Combining several technological innovations such as ultra-fast broadband internet and VR headsets that operate seamlessly together, the soon-to-come metaverse will function as a digital twin of the physical world. Allowing businesses to create hyper-real digital worlds for users to work, shop, and play, the metaverse has the potential to alter how we lead our daily lives. Bridging the gap between the physical and the virtual will also create a brand-new digital economy based on the intimate interactions consumers will have within the digital worlds — hence the alluring prospect for e-commerce businesses.
Changes the metaverse will bring about in e-commerce
Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores offers consumers some form of physical satisfaction and sensory product experiences. However, with the focus placed on convenience and speed, e-commerce shopping forgoes this physical aspect. With the rise of mobile commerce and increasing consumer demands, retailers must take major steps in creating an element of newness and innovation for their customers. This is where the metaverse comes in with its promise to deliver an immersive and round-the-clock personalised online shopping experience.
Since e-commerce is no longer a novelty and is rapidly moving into its second stage of maturity, brands that fail to take the metaverse seriously will lose the opportunity to effectively adapt to and manage customer expectations.
This alone has encouraged some e-commerce retailers to make their presence in the metaverse to improve customer experience and increase online sales.
A peek into the books of major brands
One major brand that has entered the metaverse is Nike. In November 2021, it was announced that Nike had teamed up with Roblox to create a virtual world called Nikeland. Five months after the metaverse store opened, the brand reported that it saw approximately 7 million visits from people around the world. The sporting goods brand’s micro metaverse allowed loyal fans to try on virtual products and partake in games like dodgeball to keep them engaged. In late March of 2022, Nike took it a step further with Airtopia to target a new audience – kids. To celebrate Air Max, Nike’s iconic line of sneakers, it launched the magical world that included ‘Air-lien’ characters, a crashed spaceship, a new game called ‘Jump Jump Jump’ and a virtual pet store.
Opportunities arising from metaverse shopping
As retailers realise what metaverse sales can do for their brand, e-commerce in the metaverse is certain to accelerate. By diversifying their marketing streams, businesses can preemptively guard against disruptions to one particular revenue-generating communication tool. Besides being a key component of consideration when creating an effective business continuity plan, leveraging this new technology can offer customers a more engaging experience. The metaverse will also reshape the way we think of e-commerce by offering:
1. Dynamic online shopping experiences
As with any shopping experience, customers are the key focus. The metaverse will allow customers to be more involved with the brand as they shop for products in real-time. Having a digital storefront will remove any physical limitations, assuring online shoppers an excellent experience from start to finish. As they spend more time socialising and shopping within the metaverse, it is inevitable that their perception of virtual and physical stores transforms as well. With low barriers of entry, brands that adopt an omnichannel strategy can also coordinate experiences on all platforms from e-commerce to social media with ease.
2. Top-notch personalisation
When it comes to reducing cart abandonment, tailored experiences are fast becoming the table stakes. The bespoke virtual experience delivered by Nikeland allows customers to style personalised goods such as sneakers and apparel as they wish. Moreover, giving consumer’s avatar the opportunity to try products on will boost their confidence in a product, reducing cart abandonment. Doing so in a digital space will retain the driving force behind all e-commerce businesses — speed and access.
3. Increased engagement
While Nikeland and Airtopia might have games to maintain customer attention, the tight-knit community that the metaverse nurtures will have engagement levels skyrocketing too. Doing more than what social media engagement can do, the metaverse lets brands engage with their loyal following in unrivalled ways, all in real-time. As with all constantly engaged loyal following comes a boost in sales.
Heading into the metaverse
As the adoption of the metaverse, AR, and VR technology grows and more features arise, brands will soon have access to millions of global customers. Without the need to manufacture actual products or distribute them, more resources can be focused on creating unique products that are sure to intrigue. Armed with the novelty factor that has the masses enticed, investing in new technologies is the business model that should be adopted to acclimatise to the new marketplace.