Many people are curious about what it means to be in the “metaverse”, even those who have worked in retail for their entire careers.
In October 2021, Facebook, Inc., changed its name from “Meta” to reflect the metaverse’s emergence and announced multibillion dollar investments in metaverse technology. There are many cautious voices. Meta acknowledged that the metaverse won’t be built in an instant and that it could take between 10 and 15 years to see metaverse products “fully realized.”
Lindsey Mazza is the global supply chain domain leader for Capgemini. speaking via video conference, she said that “it’s just an area to hang out”. It’s more than that. “It’s an immersive experience. One where we spend some time with our friends and family to create new experiences that are both physical and digital.”
Digital has been a trend for some time. Many brands are already testing online games and the possibility of a crossover to a “metaverse”.
Many people think that the best way to visualize the metaverse is to think about platforms like Roblox, where online retailers are creating virtual real property.
Forever 21 is a fast fashion brand that created a virtual shop in Roblox. The brand even created physical products that were identical to those in the virtual store.
Mazza explains that both people have the desire to become twins with their avatars and to be able experience the physical and digital worlds.
Many online retailers have added AR to their ecommerce platforms as a way of blurring the digital and physical lines.
AR apps from big sellers such as Ikea and Wayfair allow you to visualize how furniture and decor items would look in your home. You can virtually try on glasses frames before you order them online. With apps from cosmetics brands such as Mac and Maybelline, you can also get a virtual makeover so that you can see which products and shades will look best on your face.
One vision for the metaverse is one where all these apps are connected. This will allow shoppers to virtual try on make-up and glasses simultaneously, with seamless buying.
Digital platforms are not only embracing AR but also large brands. They have begun to offer tools that allow small businesses to create virtual experiences. Shopify, for example, supports 3D models in its product pages. Customers can see AR products and have access to experts to create them.
Another vision of the future metaverse is the development of ecommerce via social media. TikTok has already made progress in this area, so the metaverse seems more attractive, appealing, and widely accepted than ever.
Test and then test again
All of this can seem daunting to small businesses, but in the past two years there has been an seismic shift that has accelerated all generations’ access to the digital sphere. This has led to a greater acceptance by the average consumer of this new shopping option.
Mazza advises small businesses to “not jump in with digital products immediately – test this market through creating environments for people to hang out.” Let’s create a place where customers can feel at ease, ask questions, and where they can purchase physical products. Keep your focus on what you are good at, the things you know best – the products you sell.
Optimize and review
Nearly all retailers were forced to embrace online selling due to the pandemic. It is now time for small businesses and entrepreneurs to evaluate their online offerings, and optimize their online presence.
Mazza is very clear. Mazza is clear. Online, mobile, or both, how do you create a place in the metaverse that allows you to offer a unique experience for your customers?
Small businesses can open a shop in a new area and offer customers a unique way to talk.
Mazza says, “2022 will be the year that mega brands explore the metaverse.” They are hungry and will spend big on these types projects. Small businesses must ensure they don’t get left behind.