Online shopping currently accounts for about $218.5 billion in sales, representing a steady upward trend. However, technological disruptions in the space are bound to grow this number exponentially.
The most anticipated change is the adoption of the metaverse in online shopping. According to research, the relatively new metaverse market is expected to grow to $800 billion by 2024.
The metaverse will transform how consumers shop by introducing new ways for retail brands to demo, market, place, and have consumers try their products.
Here’s what you need to know about the metaverse and what it means for consumer shopping in the future.
What Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a shared virtual space where people can interact with digital objects and each other in a way similar to real life. It represents a digital universe or worlds that house various virtual experiences. These include virtual stores, gaming platforms, and much more.
The metaverse’s popularity has skyrocketed recently with the rebranding of Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, to Meta. Meta is developing this virtual world to also serve as an extension of its existing products and services.
The metaverse is built on three key technologies. They include the following:
- Virtual reality – Virtual reality, commonly known as VR, allows users to immerse themselves into the virtual world using a headset or VR glasses. This technology tracks movements and displays 3D images for the users.
- Augmented reality – Augmented reality, also known as AR, overlays digital images over the real world, allowing users to interact with virtual objects like real objects.
- Blockchain – Blockchain technology runs at the core of the metaverse. It allows for secure and transparent transactions in the virtual world through cryptocurrencies.
How Does the Metaverse Relate to Retail?
Retail has been dominated by e-commerce in recent times. Most customers are browsing and buying products online, with the growth of e-commerce being fueled by the rapid adoption of mobile phones and increased internet penetration.
However, e-commerce suffers from a few important limitations. Customers lack physical interaction with products and the inability to explore stores or shopping malls online in a real-life-like manner. That’s why a significant number still choose to shop in-store for specific products such as fashion items.
The metaverse offers a way to deal with these limitations. It allows customers to move through stores as if they’re physically within them and virtually try on and hold items they wish to purchase. The goal is to create a more realistic feel for online shopping and increase sales.
Several brands have already adopted this new approach to online shopping. Wayfair, for instance, allows its customers to capture their home space and use AR to visualize how their products will look in the space.
Glasses.com allows customers to try on a pair of glasses virtually, making it easier to choose which one they prefer before purchasing.
We have worked with brands such as Mitsubishi, Calvin Klein, and P&G to create immersive virtual stores that allow them to demo their products and allow the customer to try them on virtually and decide, interactively, which one they like the most.
How the Metaverse Will Change Consumer Shopping
The metaverse will bring significant changes to consumer shopping in the following ways:
The metaverse allows brands to place their products in more customized environments that show the product’s features best. Therefore, your brand gets the edge of showcasing its products online in a more realistic setting where customers can interact freely with them.
Proper product placement promotes product awareness which consequently improves sales.
One of the metaverse’s most significant advantages in consumer shopping is allowing buyers to try products without visiting an actual store nearby. This can be beneficial if you’re selling a complex product such as software or other services.
The metaverse allows for virtual walkthroughs and demos, which give the customer deeper insight into the product or service and how it will be helpful in their scenario. Product demos also help sell high-end items often unavailable in most physical stores due to logistical and security issues.
In-store sales are much easier for most brands since they can convince customers why they should buy a particular product. With the metaverse, you can still hold this advantage by operating a virtual store where customers can visit, interact with your products, and learn why they should consider purchasing them.
You can have a virtual assistant within these virtual stores who can help deliver a complete immersive marketing experience. Customers get immediate answers to their queries as they interact with the various products and get any other shopping assistance they might need.
The metaverse also allows your brand to run immersive marketing campaigns through virtual conferences and product launches.
Cohesive Shopping Experiences
The metaverse will allow brands to deliver cohesive shopping experiences that close the gap between physical and online shopping experiences. According to research, omnichannel marketplace formats will account for 86% of retail sales growth over the next five years.
This means that despite customers opting for an in-store shopping experience, brands with a digital presence will enjoy more sales. Using the metaverse experience, customers will be more confident about what they want to buy based on how they experienced it in the metaverse, boosting in-store sales.
Socialized Online Shopping
Online shopping has predominantly been a lonely experience. Customers shop alone with little interaction with other buyers to learn about their experiences, see their reactions, and get shopping advice.
The metaverse changes this experience and adds considerable socialization to online shopping experiences. Customers can shop for their favorite products in a social VR environment where they can interact with other shoppers, see their reactions in real time, and get shopping advice from their online friends.
Brands will also have the opportunity to know their customers at a personal level and offer personalized and unique shopping experiences instead of the traditional generalized feel of e-commerce.
Start Your Metaverse Journey Today
The metaverse will be a transformative addition to the online shopping experience. Brands have the chance to offer more cohesive, personalized, and immersive shopping experiences that will boost online and in-store sales. Contact a professional and learn how you can start your metaverse journey today.