The rebranding of Facebook Inc. as Metaverse Platforms Inc. emphasises how critical it is for retailers and brands to incorporate experiential e-commerce into their business strategies today in order to establish a distinct presence in the metaverse tomorrow.
The metaverse, often referred to as the next generation of the internet, is a connected, 3D virtual world in which consumers, via their individual avatars, can interact in real time with the digital environment and everything and everyone in it. Users in this virtual universe, which is already taking shape, will engage in activities such as shopping, gaming, learning, working, and attending concerts and events — but they will also use the space to simply hang out and socialise with one another.
The largest metaverse platforms today are Roblox and Epic Games’ Fortnite, with 45 million daily active users and 350 million monthly active users, respectively. However, the metaverse will evolve quickly, and new offerings that aren’t solely focused on gaming will emerge, attracting their own purpose-based communities of users.
Forward-thinking brands and retailers are already developing immersive e-commerce experiences like 3D virtual flagships and pop-up stores, as well as imagining how their brand and products will appear in the metaverse. Technology advancements have enabled immersive online shopping experiences that are more rich, dynamic, and interactive than anything we’ve seen before.
Over the next decade, today’s teenagers’ spending power will skyrocket, and their expectations will shape the future of experiential e-commerce in the metaverse. As digital natives who have grown up interacting online and spending much of their time on mobile devices, they will expect the entire shopping experience to be personalised, interactive, and customizable.
The Metaverse is Forming
Brands will create their own shopping environments on metaverse platforms, and the spaces will allow consumers to do much more than just browse and buy. Shoppers will be able to interact with one another as well as with brands and their products, as well as design, clothe, and accessorise their digital avatars, attend events and fashion shows, and engage in other activities.
In the metaverse, the emerging class of products that bridge the physical and digital worlds will take centre stage. Brands ranging from luxury to consumer packaged goods are already selling digital assets as NFTs and giving customers the option to purchase physical versions of some of the virtual items. Dolce & Gabbana, for example, recently auctioned off a collection of NFTs and physical items for the cryptocurrency equivalent of $6 million.
Advances in computer hardware and software will enable the metaverse, including an increased ability to represent digital interfaces in immersive 3D graphics that mirror the real world, as opposed to the 2D “page” interface that is still common on most e-commerce sites. Brands must begin defining how they will represent themselves in the metaverse because customers, particularly younger demographics, will expect to seamlessly engage with every aspect of their online lives across the connected virtual world we will inhabit.