The internet has changed the way we connect, live, shop, and much more. It has totally changed the way retail businesses operate around the world through massive digitalization using eCommerce.
Metaverse Transforming The eCommerce Landscape
The world wide web has fueled a massive growth of online shopping in the last few years. According to Statista, “The total number of digital shoppers worldwide grew by over one billion between 2014 and 2021 and is expected to keep growing.” We have successfully entered the era of digitalization, where technology is thriving and replacing the traditional operations, making our lives easier than ever. Recent technological innovations such as blockchain, NFTs, Virtual Reality, and virtual currency envision a more immersive experience of the internet—the so-called “metaverse.” It is just around the corner as we enter into web 3.0. This article is all about the metaverse and its impact on the online shopping landscape that every eCommerce business owner must know about.
What Is The Metaverse?
The internet has developed over the last few decades, from just showing monotonous pages to the user to allowing them to interact, generate content, and connect with each other. Connecting with your friends through FaceTime, sharing amazing memes, adding negative reviews to the pizza store that you didn’t enjoy: all these things are now possible due to the internet.
Now, what next? We are leaning towards a more immersive virtual experience than the human race has ever had with the metaverse. The synergized effect of extended realities, blockchain, NFTs, and other cutting-edge technologies is allowing us to peek into a virtual world that seems more real than ever before.
The word “metaverse” is made up of two words: “meta” meaning “beyond” and “verse” meaning “universe”, and it means, simply, beyond the universe. The definition of the metaverse could be “a Virtual Reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.”
According to Facebook, rebranded as Meta, “metaverse is the next evolution of social connection.” It is a computer-simulated world where people can interact. The technology of blockchain and extended realities is letting us look beyond the true reality. Metaverse refers to the idea of a virtually simulated world on the blockchain, in which the users can interact through the extended reality. In layman’s terms, it is a 3D computer-generated replica of the real world that allows users to interact with it through an immersive experience.
The Metaverse, A New Beginning For eLearning eCommerce
The internet is no longer just a place to gather information, and today, users can interact, engage, post content, and do other stuff on the internet. And this is getting better over time. The metaverse is going to change how things work, including eCommerce. It will totally change how people interact online, right from online meetings to organizing events. The virtual world will take over almost everything in the upcoming years with the rise of the metaverse. Online businesses must speed up their marketing strategies and efforts in the ever-changing online landscape to survive this enormous transition from web 2.0 to web 3.0. This will bring plenty of challenges as well as opportunities for eCommerce businesses.
The Nuts And Bolts Of The Metaverse
Before we dive deep into the metaverse, let us consider having a look at its core. Blockchain, extended reality, and NFTs form the building blocks of the metaverse. Let us review each of them to understand how they help to form a virtual world.
When we are talking about the metaverse, we are talking about a decentralized and synchronous virtual world, where events occur in real time just like in the real world. Such a real-time, synchronous, and decentralized virtual ecosystem is not possible without the technology of blockchain. In a virtual world, this technology can ensure that all the events are logged into a secure and decentralized series of records known as blocks. These blocks are decentralized and cannot be altered using a single entity, thus providing a more secure and reliable ecosystem that is not governed by anyone. This will allow the tracking of changes in virtual assets, their ownership, and will also prevent crime in the metaverse.
2. Extended Reality
Extended reality (XR) is a spectrum term used to cover immersive experiences such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The metaverse is a whole new level of virtual experiences through the XR. The metaverse would be just a sci-fi thing without extended reality. These technologies take the immersive experiences of the virtual world to the next level by bringing them directly in front of our senses, such as 3D visuals through Augmented Reality, 3D surrounding sounds, etc.
3. Non-Fungible Tokens
The term “non-fungible token”, abbreviated as NFT, has gained massive popularity in the last couple of years. It refers to digital assets that are registered on a decentralized blockchain that maintains a highly accurate record of the ownership of these assets. Non-fungible tokens can be created from digital assets, ranging from a piece of melodious music to great artwork. The digital assets in the metaverse will be stored in the blockchain in the form of NFTs which can be tracked and reproduced as and when required.
The Current State Of The Metaverse
In reality, virtual worlds have been amongst us for more than a decade and it is possible that we are not aware of it. Call it Minecraft or Pokemon GO, they all are some kind of virtual world giving more or less virtual life experiences. The technology of blockchain has been expanding the horizons of virtual worlds and has allowed the world to think about the concept of the metaverse. It is now possible to create decentralized virtual worlds where reality is synchronous and trackable through the blockchain.
There are a few virtual world projects already being developed for a virtual future. The Sandbox is one such virtual world built on Ethereum, which allows people to buy virtual lands and digital assets in the form of NFTs. There are plenty of other examples of virtual worlds also available. Metaverses are developing at a rapid pace, with a huge demand for digital assets such as NFTs. The adoption rate of the virtual world is also growing with time and will dominate the real world soon.
The Metaverse For Online Merchants And Customers
Virtual worlds are no longer just sci-fi. The mass adoption of the virtual world will totally change how things work, including online shopping and business. This has a lot of things to offer customers as well as merchants. Here is how the metaverse will affect online merchants and customers.
1. Virtual Shopping
The virtual world will take the shopping experience to the next level through more immersive product experiences. The virtual world will have a place for virtual stores where customers can have an immersive experience of the product. Being digital assets, it is possible for the merchants to open the same stores across an array of virtual worlds. Even Facebook is providing a facility of using Facebook Shop for selling products on Facebook. For customers, exploring products and experiencing them across dimensions will provide a more immersive shopping experience. The line of difference between real shopping and virtual shopping will almost be nullified.
2. Personalized Shopping
Personalization is the key to success for businesses. Customers love to purchase customized products. There are plenty of tools already available that allow customers to customize products. The eCommerce behemoths are already taking advantage of product personalizations by allowing customers to personalize and customize the products as per their requirements. The metaverse will open new possibilities and will take product personalization to the next level. Customers will be able to personalize products and experience them through virtual experiences in real time. This will totally change how online businesses work.
3. Customer Interaction
The hyper-real alternative virtual world will bring a massive revolution in how people interact with virtual things. The metaverse has a lot to revolutionize in the online business landscape, including how customers interact with brands and products. A 3D virtual space where people can interact with virtual assets and other people will replace today’s monotonous 2D product pages. This will improve the customer interaction level with the brands and products to almost as high as in-person shopping. Such a highly immersive product experience will greatly influence the customers’ purchase decisions. It will also enhance the pre-sales and post-sales shopping experience of the customers through various emerging virtual touchpoints. For example, brands can show their products in actions through virtual objects in the metaverse.
The Metaverse For Luxury Brands
The emergence of virtual worlds is expected to influence billions of people and their virtual presence. 3D avatars play inside such virtual worlds. In a scenario where most things have shifted from real to virtual, people care more about their avatars’ looks in the virtual world. According to Mark Zuckerberg, avatars are going to be everything in the metaverse and will represent their actions and gestures through richer interactions. Luxury brands are already making big bucks from this. Virtual assets are being sold through the non-fungible tokens in a limited quantity in the virtual world. Here is how luxury brands have started solidifying their roots in the virtual world as well.
- Gucci sold a virtual bag in Roblox through NFT for 350,000 Roblox currency, which is equivalent to $4115.
- In December 2021, Nike took over RTFKT, a popular digital sneaker brand that sold over 600 pairs of shoes worth $3.1 million in less than 7 minutes.
- In 2021, Coca-Cola partnered with Tafi and create virtual loot boxes through NFTs, and grabbed over $1 million.
Virtual worlds are no longer just sci-fi things! The metaverse is about to bring a revolutionary change in the eCommerce landscape through blockchain, NFTs, and extended reality. It will make the shopping experience much more personalized, immersive, and interactive. Some business leaders including Nike, Gucci, and Coca-Cola have already started strengthening their roots in the metaverse. The current scenario suggests that virtual worlds are going to be the future, requiring eCommerce businesses to take part in the big game.