The metaverse offers retailers enormous possibilities for raising brand awareness, deepening engagement, and improving customer experience. Find out more about how the metaverse will transform retail experiences.
Thanks to the metaverse, retail shopping is about to get a major overhaul.
The metaverse is a collective, persistent parallel universe created by stitching together multiple virtual worlds. Eventually, we’ll be able to seamlessly transverse between different parts of the metaverse using our avatars.
We have already seen some interesting data coming out of the pandemic about consumers’ openness to buying in the metaverse.
Studies have shown that shoppers are open to new retail experiences and ways of engaging with brands, and there is some evidence that customers are more likely to buy an item when they experience it through augmented reality (AR).
During the pandemic shutdown, when many physical retail locations were closed, retailers that used AR saw a 19% increase in customer engagement.
Once we’ve developed the metaverse, retail brands will have a myriad of ways to make shopping more useful and engaging, including ways to replicate an in-person shopping experience without having to leave home.
Here are a few ways the metaverse will transform retail.
The Opportunity to Expand from Physical Stores
Will Hayes, CEO of Lucidworks, says retailers should focus on expanding from their physical store experiences into the metaverse instead of leading with digital experiences. Hayes says:
“Physical spaces work because we’re physical humans. Entire teams of merchandisers and designers are built on the idea that how we experience things as we move through real, physical life matters. As a consumer, it makes me feel something, makes me buy more, makes me come back — and in the metaverse, I can do it all without getting off the couch.”
Improved Immersive Experiences
In the not-so-distant future, you'll be able to buy a new car in the metaverse by taking a test drive on a race track or simulated cityscape. Or you could get advice from a beauty advisor or personal shopper without having to leave your living room.
Here are a few brands that are already providing immersive retail experiences for shoppers:
- Foot Locker devised an AR-based scavenger hunt that led people to a location where they could purchase limited-edition sneakers.
- LEGO launched eight AR-focused sets called Hidden Side that combine the virtual world and real life.
- Red Bull energy drink built an AR Snapchat lens that allows users to interact with an avatar of pro gamer and influencer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.
- Vehicle shopping can now experience a beautiful XR 360-degree video of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class cruising through the Portuguese countryside.
Seeing and Experiencing More Product Details
In the metaverse, shoppers will have an easier time making buying decisions because they’ll be able to see and experience products in far greater detail than we do now.
These brands are already using AR and VR to help shoppers get a detailed look at a product and decide if they're the right fit:
- Apple created a web-based AR demo to promote their iPhone series that lets customers view new devices on their screens and spin them around to see them from different angles.
- Sotheby’s currently offers perfectly accurate digital property tours that provide an experience that is virtually indistinguishable from real-life walkthroughs.
- Home Depot created a Project Color app that helps shoppers find the right shade of paint by taking a photo of the room and changing the color in AR.
Better Customization Opportunities
In the metaverse, you’ll also have enormous opportunities to customize, configure, and personalize products before you buy. Here are some examples of companies that are already enabling XR-based customizations:
- Porsche unveiled a new 3D app called AR Visualizer that lets car shoppers customize and build their perfect Porsche and see what the car will look like in the context of your real life.
- Urbanist Architecture gives homeowners a way to plan, view, and customize new home interiors when they are planning new renovations or extensions.
New and Digital-Only Products
In the metaverse, it will be possible for shoppers to buy digital versions of practically anything. For example, you could buy digital versions of your favorite artwork or stock your virtual closet with clothes and accessories for your metaverse avatar.
These brands are already creating unique digital-only products using XR technology:
- Scandinavian retailer Carlings released its first digital clothing collection in 2018.
- Happy99 created digital-only shoes, futuristic-looking shoes.
- Martha Stewart posted her collection of NFTs for sale on her digital store, which is called “FRESH Mint.”