As brands take multiple steps to widen their digital presence, the metaverse is slowly becoming the premier destination of enhanced digital experiences. From being a mere sci-fi concept that embraced the idea of “escape” to becoming an ecosystem where the real world meets the virtual, the metaverse is now flexing its (virtual) muscles, leading us to a vast space where the possibilities could be endless.
While the metaverse continues to be in its development stages, its appeal only strengthens across various industries over time. However, we’ve seen the retail industry jumping on the metaverse bandwagon a little earlier than the rest — brands found it hard not to be attracted to the metaverse’s ability to create new shopping experiences that are seamlessly integrated simultaneously, both in the digital and the real world.
Shopping, Version 3.0
The retail industry has evolved dramatically, having witnessed trends and concepts that rose and fell short throughout history. Yet, the metaverse, according to most, is tapped to take flight. “The metaverse may do more to change retail than anything since the physical store,” said Cate Trotter, Head of Insider Trends, in an Inc. article.
With today’s shopping experiences becoming even more social and customer-centric, perhaps the time has arrived for retail brands to further strengthen their foothold on the metaverse. There is a great opportunity to create immersive digital experiences for shoppers, leading to better interactions, customer loyalty, and new customers. As everything is within reach in the metaverse, it has the potential to inspire a fairer playing (or should we say shopping?) field, even for the smaller retail brands.
From Storefront to Virtual Malls
A few of us may associate traditional malls with a feeling of nostalgia, based on our memories that feature a big complex that housed a food court, or perhaps a small multiplex that screened the latest movies, or a chain of department stores offering huge discounts. While a traditional mall’s “charm” during its golden days is irreplaceable, retail brands are now closer to reimagining the whole shopping experience by expanding their physical stores to reach the digital stores. And we’re already seeing it now. Metamall, a metaverse platform, is a virtual mall where customers can buy goods and interact virtually with one another. In addition, today’s retail giants are seeking more ways to stay ahead of the competition by meeting their customers in various metaverse platforms and offering them NFTs of exclusive digital drip.
Through the metaverse, brands have the ability to offer limited-time events as well as unique products exclusive to their virtual store. Currently, there is a growing interest, especially among the younger generations who have quickly adapted to commercial metaverse platforms such as The Sandbox and Decentraland.
Achieving Balance Between Tech and Humanity
Like in all digital spaces, it is always pivotal to build harmony between technology and humanity — even more so in the metaverse. The ability to offer the best digital shopping experience not only relies on using the latest technology, but also on meeting individual customer needs efficiently and with empathy in a whole new space.
It is inevitable for the metaverse to continue redefining the way we shop, especially if it’s powered by changing and emerging technologies. Brands in the retail industry could gain a competitive advantage by tapping into the metaverse, looking at it as a new, digital-first platform that can offer a trifecta of features: a virtual shop to sell and exchange goods or services, a space to promote products, and a channel to connect, interact, and engage with customers.