The E-commerce Revolution is Happening in the Metaverse
You are at a Starbucks having coffee with a friend. She mentions that she has seen two dresses that you’ll both like. A selection of dresses appears in your peripheral vision in an instant. She describes the style as the digital images float by, allowing your AI assistant to fine-tune your selection. You see the dresses she recommended, but some of the details bother you. Your AI assistant duplicates them and launches your customizer.
You grant your friend access with a single swipe, and together you swap out the tresses and change the color scheme. You buy the dresses — and an NFT version to dress your holographic avatar — with another gesture. They’ll be delivered later this week from the on-demand factory.
You bid your friend farewell and tap your smart glasses to exit the Starbucks. However, as a matter of fact, you never left your sofa.
Presto Change-o! Welcome to the metaverse, a virtual-physical hybrid extension of our interconnected world. The metaverse creates a 3D version of the internet using augmented and mixed reality. From supermarket checkout lines to music concerts, the metaverse software stack makes new spatialities in everyday life. The metaverse presents a scintillating study into the dyadic union between our digitally-mediated lives and space. Rob Kitchin and Martin Dodge investigate software from a spatial standpoint in Code/Space.
They argue that the production of space is becoming increasingly dependent on code, and that code is written to produce space. Airport check-in areas, networked offices, and cafés transformed into workspaces by laptops and wireless access are examples of code/space. According to Kitchin and Dodge, software transduces space through its ability to perform work in the real world.
The authors then develop a set of conceptual tools to identify and comprehend the interrelatedness between software, space, and everyday life, and they back up their claims with extensive empirical evidence. Finally, they declare a manifesto calling for critical scholarship into the production and operation of code rather than just the technologies it enables—a new type of social science focused on explaining the social, economic, and spatial contours of software.
Indubitably, the metaverse is precipitating a new social science in which the anthropology of the future takes into account the various elements of a metaverse’s existence.
Ever since the introduction of technology to purchase goods over the internet, there has been a schism between the real and digital worlds. Purchasing goods in traditional brick-and-mortar stores allows customers to touch or try on products before purchasing physically. E-commerce shopping eliminates the physical aspect of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping while providing unprecedented convenience, speed, and access.
The metaverse is where these two previously separate worlds of commerce collide to create an experience that will forever change the face of e-commerce.
The metaverse is confusing, there is no doubt about that. Lots of companies are throwing the term around, everybody running around like headless chicken to try and fit it into their business model. The term metaverse was first seen in the 1992 novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, blowing into the mainstream with the announcement of Facebook’s change to Meta. To that effect, there were 2.62 million searches for “metaverse” on Google in October 2021.
Nevertheless, the term was an esoteric phrase among the crypto literati.
One thing is for sure, the metaverse will change the face of e-commerce, and it has already started to do so. The linking of digital assets to their physical counterparts, or limiting the purchase of those physical items to holders of specific digital artifacts, is an important feature that represents the changing aspects of e-commerce.
The E-commerce Play
Mixed reality will become more available to businesses and consumers in the next few years, reshaping our lives. In a paradigm shift facilitated by a tidal wave of technological developments during the next decade, we will traverse through these hybrid worlds with diverse sensations in different dimensions.
Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce company, has integrated early metaverse technologies into its marketplace. Room Decorator, the company’s newest augmented reality shopping product, lets you visualize what furniture and other home décor would look like in your space using your phone or tablet. You can combine various goods and even save AR images of your room for later viewing.
Warby Parker offers virtual try-on software that allows you to try on all of the frames in the company’s collection before making a purchase. This allows you to purchase its products online without having to take a chance on the product’s suitability for your face.
These potential possibilities are being fueled by the increasing sophistication of multiple merging technologies. Cloud computing, 3D modeling, game design, and cloud mapping – a rapidly developing technology that allows computers to interpret the shapes around them — are all playing a role. The ramifications of this new universe go beyond generating novel retail experiences; many people believe mixed reality will shift the way we perceive the world.
Previously, most consumers were turned off by the relatively high cost of entry and the clunky, unwieldy interfaces that accompanied it. While gamers were early adopters who put up with these flaws, they remain a barrier to entry for many. The good news is that businesses are attempting to remove the said barriers to widespread adoption. Facebook’s Oculus Quest, for instance, is establishing relatively low pricing. MetaVRse, a firm whose purpose is to enable deeper connectedness in the 3D internet world, offers a platform that makes it easier to create virtual experiences that don’t require coding.
The major hurdle is still cumbersome technology, but in the future years, we may expect to see lighter, quicker, and smaller gadgets. As these new technologies mature, they will continue to amend our perceptions of e-commerce.
Bringing Offline And Online Commerce Together
E-commerce in the metaverse will undoubtedly grow in the coming years yonder. As technology and the use of technology advance, more novel features that combine offline and online purchasing will become available. Because of the expanding popularity of augmented reality technology, consumers may be completely confident in the quality and fit of a product before they buy it. This benefits customers in terms of convenience, but it also benefits merchants in terms of reducing returns and broadening their customer base.
The pace of product discovery and personalization will likewise go up. Brands will be able to provide shoppers with a highly tailored digital experience thanks to metaverse technologies. The metaverse will provide a seamless experience for shoppers, allowing them to find exactly what they want when they want it. Unlike the present constraints of individualized digital shopping experiences, the metaverse will allow marketers to tailor the buying experience at scale, allowing them to reach more customers than ever before.
In the metaverse, the gap between social media and e-commerce will continue to narrow. As evidenced by the importance of Amazon reviews and other online product reviews, social proof is already at the heart of e-commerce. Brands will be able to go beyond just a star rating in the metaverse by creating interesting communities that allow customers to interact with the brand and other fans of the brand.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are another crucial facet of the metaverse. NFTs will be able to be used by brands for a variety of purposes in order to improve the shopping experience. NFTs will be used to develop brand-new digital products. They’ll also be utilized as receipts, passes to special events, and even early access to future product releases. NFTs can be utilized to provide a variety of VIP experiences for a company’s most ardent consumers and brand champions.
We’ve only begun to tread the waters of how this technology will impact e-commerce. E-commerce as we know it will become almost exclusively based in the metaverse as these technologies advance and the lines between the physical and digital worlds dissolve.
Virtual Buying is Breaking Down the Barriers Between Offline and Online Platforms
We’ve watched brands struggle to offer consistent experiences across e-commerce, physical and mortar, and social media ever since ‘omnichannel’ became the ultimate term in retail.
Yet, catering to every conceivable shopping journey necessitates an advanced IT stack and the complete unification of data across all interfaces – something even huge retailers have struggled to organize effectively.
It is why some companies have decided to create something altogether new: integrated, dynamic digital storefronts that combine the most significant aspects of online and offline shopping.
Virtual shopping has converted e-commerce from static product catalogs to real-time interactions that allow customers to ‘walk’ through a store while viewing 3D-rendered retail displays made possible by AR and VR technologies. It’s a first step toward bridging the gap between physical retail’s immersiveness and the ease and convenience of internet purchase as alluded to from the outset.
It’s About to Get More Personal
Personalization is quickly becoming a must-have for any company looking to build customer loyalty: 80 percent of customers say they’re more likely to purchase from a company that offers tailored experiences, and 75 percent of customers think the concept of ‘living customer profiles’ is beneficial to the shopping experience.
Personalization in e-commerce, on the other hand, frequently ends with product recommendations or discounts. This may increase conversions, but it does not inspire buyers to explore your brand’s ecosystem and participate in the culture that surrounds your product catalog. Nike has been a leader in digital interconnectivity and invention for a long time, so it’s no shock that it was one of the first to invest in the metaverse. Nike has made huge moves into the area of bespoke interactions and experiences, in addition to submitting a variety of trademarks for virtual sneakers and gear (and so signaling a future consecutive release of NFTs).
In November of last year, Nike launched NIKELAND on the Roblox gaming platform, an immersive and customizable 3D arena where members of the Nike community can play games and even develop their own using the NIKELAND toolkit. Medals can also be won, which can be redeemed for Nike clothing and accessories for their avatars.
Above all, NIKELAND isn’t solely an online experience. Customers can use a personalized Snapchat lens to superimpose NIKELAND on the store surroundings at Nike’s House of Innovation in New York City. Nike can create significantly stronger emotional ties with customers by empowering them to bring their unique slice of the brand into the offline experience.
E-commerce firms have a lot to gain by investing in community-building projects in a market where social proof and recommendations from fellow consumers are more powerful than any other type of marketing. You may create a more symbiotic relationship with your clients by encouraging them to actively participate in your company’s activities. This will keep you in touch with what your followers want from your brand.
Businesses that wanted to bring more of their customers under one roof used to rely on PR activations and influencer events. Now, the metaverse has opened up new prospects for brands that want to bring more of their customers under one digitally-mediated roof. Whereas previously events were limited by location, logistics, and, more recently, public health regulations, it is now possible for anybody to participate in immersive brand experiences.