Retail Today With The Metaverse and What's In Store For Tomorrow
Though the metaverse remains a fairly fresh concept, a growing number of brands and retailers are hopping on the bandwagon themselves.
While the promise of the metaverse for retail holds great appeal with shopping experiences starting to seamlessly integrate throughout immersive digital worlds, we can all agree that the development of the technology to support it is still in its very early stages.
The question is, why is there such a great surge of interest in this?
Here are some of the key opportunities for brands and retailers that the metaverse presents, and what actions can be taken now to prepare.
Given the presence of web3-heavy games like Roblox and Axie Infinity,
a retail component already exists on gaming and nascent metaverse platforms,
both of which are marketplaces for a variety of virtual goods. These can range from inexpensive digital skins to unique non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, that command tens of thousands of dollars a piece. The marginal costs of these virtual goods is essentially zero, and NFTs can increase in value over time - depending on its rarity, supply and demand.
Augmented reality (AR) represents another entry point into the retail metaverse.
Beauty, fashion and home furnishings are three categories with clear applications for shopping-related AR, unleashing the potential for shoppers to explore even more realistic shopping-from-home.
Whipping out some statistics, Shopify claims that
interactions with products featuring 3D/AR content had a
94% higher conversion rate
than those without it. Consumers value the ability to try on real-world goods through AR and to visualise products in 3D, and these are features that can be transferred to more immersive digital settings.
As for social media, Snapchat is on the lead and betting on AR as the future of e-commerce, building on the popularity of its Lens AR features. In November 2021, it launched the Snap Holiday Market with six major brands (Amazon and Walmart among them) featuring virtual stores, immersive product showcases, and AR try-ons.
Apple's anticipated entry into the AR/VR market through an eyeglass product will accelerate consumer interest and generate more widespread adoption of these devices, potentially changing the game for the development of the metaverse.