The metaverse is reshaping the way brands do business and how consumers behave. Right now, we’re seeing big and small companies across various sectors venture into the digital world. These brands include household names such as Nike, Hulu, Walmart, and Verizon.
It has come to the point that boardrooms around the world are discussing strategies for the metaverse, and it may be time to understand what it truly is, why it’s important for businesses, and how it can elevate e-commerce.
A Deep-Dive into Metaverse E-commerce:
Getting to Know the Metaverse
There’s still quite a lot to figure out about the metaverse and people are still trying to figure out the concept and how it will affect the future of ecommerce.
In a nutshell, the metaverse is like a parallel virtual world that has pockets of online spaces where users, who are represented by virtual avatars, can socialize with others, as well as shop, trade, and travel, among many other activities. The metaverse is a result of the convergence of the physically persistent virtual space and the virtually enhanced physical reality.
In order to access this virtual world, you have to use both augmented and virtual reality with the help of specialized headsets and smart glasses. Real world perception is enhanced by augmented reality using computer-generated information. Meanwhile, virtual reality uses computer-generated input too to immerse users in the virtual land.
With its continued expansion, the metaverse will eventually serve as an alternative world for people to exist in. In this virtual space, people can do the same activities that they do offline, but more—they can go digital shopping, attend concerts, travel to far places, and meet other people who are thousands of miles away.
However, it might take a long time to transition to metaverse technology. According to Meta’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, the process may take up to 10 years. It’s a long period, but given the hype surrounding it, it’s safe to assume that the metaverse future is closer than we assume.
Key Characteristics of the Metaverse
The metaverse has key traits that set it apart from other forms of ecommerce and digital marketing strategy:
1. It’s social and interactive
As a social platform, the metaverse is a place where users will encounter each other, each being represented by avatars. These avatars can do activities together or just plain hang out with each other. While you’re there, expect to run into manifestations of artificial intelligence, virtual agents, and bots.
2. It’s made of user-generated content
The content and experiences of users will become the heart and soul of the metaverse. People will be motivated to get invested as much as possible since they can create their own interactive content, as well as improve the existing ones.
3. It can be accessed easily
The metaverse can be accessed by users by using multiple forms of hardware, which means that entering the and immersing in these environments won’t be a problem. People will only need to have virtual reality headsets and their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in order to interact with these worlds.
4. It’s a bridge between the real and digital worlds
People will be able to go from the real world to the digital one seamlessly and bring elements from one to the other. For instance, you can steer an actual drone in real life while flying a drone in the virtual world.
5. It has vibrant economies
Equipped with fully functional economies that run on cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, the virtual worlds will give users tons of opportunities for buying, selling, and investing.
6. It’s persistent
You can visit this virtual universe whenever, wherever. You can also transform it anytime you wish by adding new objects or constructing new buildings. You won’t have to worry about these chances being gone—you will definitely see it the next time you visit the place.
Why It’s Necessary to Get into the Metaverse Now
We have reached the point where not a day goes by without a celebrity or a company announcing their intention to build a presence in the metaverse. This is a result partly of attention-grabbing headlines, but it’s also because of the emerging trends coming together.
One of these is the proliferation of new technologies that allow the metaverse to become possible in the first place. We now have virtual reality and augmented reality headsets becoming more and more common as days go by, and they are fast becoming cheaper and more powerful as well. This improves the overall user experience.
There’s also blockchain enabling digital currencies and NFTs for transactions, which creators use to monetize their activities via tokens. These tokens also allow users to participate in how the platform is being governed. This opens big economic opportunities in which digital goods and services are not limited anymore to a single brand or gaming platform.
These immersive virtual experiences are also crucial from a social perspective. The metaverse can help people build communities that are based on users’ social values. Needless to say, these massive interests in the metaverse resulted from a combination of technological, economical, and social drivers.
Reasons to Use Metaverse for Marketing
Customer behavior has definitely changed drastically, brought on by the age of digital dependency. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to this change even more. People are doing more activities online—working, shopping, taking classes, attending meetings, and hosting events. This makes the metaverse a huge opportunity for brands to reach out to newer audiences, take advantage of a potential revenue source, and boost consumer confidence.
Here are some of the top benefits of investing in metaverse marketing.
1. You can showcase and sell your products.
Brands are already using augmented reality to show customers how their products look and how they work. With AR, people can try on clothes and choose furniture that will fit in their homes. AR technology can sway people who are having reservations about your products.
One good example is footwear. Maybe you're attracting customers online because they are not sure if the shoes will look good on them 100%. Through AR technology, customers can try not just shoes but also dresses, pants, and other clothing items.
The tech can give them a firsthand experience of your products and make them more confident to put your items on their carts and check them out.
2. Transactions are easier with e-wallets and cryptocurrency.
The use of digital money and cryptocurrency makes it easier for both buyers and sellers to do business online, and there’s no need to link your crypto account to your real-world banking account. Another plus is the transparency of the transactions. This will allow you to have proof of your purchases in the virtual world.
3. You’d have a new way to engage your audience.
Using the metaverse means having access to a higher level of immersive and entertaining experiences. This means more attention and more income for your business. You would be able to lure existing and prospective customers when utilizing virtual goods, branded gaming adventures, and AR/VR showrooms.
4. It allows you to become more innovative in advertising.
Now more than ever, the importance of storytelling in building brand identity and awareness has become more obvious. The metaverse is the perfect platform for storytelling. With the help of virtual reality and other forms of technology, you can fully immerse your audience and turn them from passive listeners or viewers to active participants who can “live” the story.
5. You can take advantage of virtual events.
People now know that it’s possible to do things remotely—even attend events. You can expand your audience by organizing an event, such as concerts, in a virtual universe that comes with a full VR experience. It will also provide networking and participation opportunities for your audience.
Best Practices in Metaverse Marketing
Now that you have understood the concept and realized the benefits of marketing in the metaverse, the next step is to implement it properly. Here are some ways to do it.
1. Create digital avatars
Virtual identities come hand-in-hand with the metaverse. People love digital avatars because they can customize them.
Take your cue from leading brands who are selling their virtual goods to digital avatars. Gucci sold a $4,000 digital bag on Roblox. Balenciaga collaborated with Fortnite and created virtual outfits, accessories and weapons that players can buy for their avatars.
2. Make non-intrusive digital advertisements
Audiences are now aware of the intrusive nature of ads and have become easily annoyed by them. What you want is a way to insert yourself into a platform naturally so you can engage with your target audience without disrupting their overall experience.
One way to do this is via in-game advertising. Coca-Cola and Samsung made use of virtual billboards within video games such as Football Manager and Hyper Scape.
The key is to choose the right video gaming platform. It should help you widen your reach while still remaining tight with your brand. For example, if you’re targeting casual gamers, it’s best to go with mobile games. If you’re targeting mid core gamers, it’s ideal to work with PC and console games.
3. Introduce immersive experiences
There are so many ways that immersive experiences can boost your engagement. You can increase brand loyalty and lead to more chances of referrals, especially when they post about your product, service, or overall experience.
4. Learn from metaverse moments
Businesses have to learn how to distinguish meaningful, impactful activations from publicity stunts while navigating the metaverse market. Nevertheless, companies and brands have to realize that they should embrace these new forays into virtual spaces, lest they stay stuck in the traditional strategies and paradigms of purchasing, marketing, and customer experience.
It’s not just the marketing strategies - the products that businesses sell may become different as things go into the way of the metaverse. It doesn’t matter if the products are physical or virtual, businesses will now have to consider more factors, which include user interaction and digital twin technologies if they want to build engagement for a product or service.
They also have to understand that in order to become successful in building and scaling in the metaverse, a business must have a flexible and robust financial ecosystem that will connect users seamlessly between the real and virtual worlds. This is necessary for interoperability to flourish.
At the moment, the metaverse is still in its early evolution. There’s no all-encompassing definition that people can depend on just yet. But the crucial thing to understand here is that there is no one virtual world. There are many and they are taking shape to allow people to extend and deepen their online social interactions.
By adding immersive, multi-dimensional layers to the web, users will be able to enjoy more natural and authentic experiences. The promise of the metaverse even goes beyond that. It can make things more accessible from the comfort of one’s home, break down boundaries, and make access to goods, services, and experiences more democratic.