The Metaverse heralds a new era for shops, brands and consumers. Technologies and commercial applications are still in their infancy, but retailers and brands around the world are experimenting with initial pilot projects.
The Metaverse is the next transformative phase of the Internet and thus another of the numerous disruptions that digitization has triggered in the economy and society in recent years. We understand the metaverse as an extension of the physical world, which can appear both purely virtual and hybrid. A digital ecosystem in which different actors create experiences together, distributed network systems enable direct trade and users interact in new ways.
Brands like Gucci, H&M or Ikea are taking the first steps by creating immersive experiences in cooperation with platforms like Sandbox or Zepeto or by piloting their own applications with augmented reality.
In addition to brand, marketing and sales, the largest fields of action are in service and advice. The customers are ready, the retailers are in a positive mood: According to an Accenture study, 83 percent of those surveyed are interested in shopping in the Metaverse. Almost every second retailer believes that the changes brought about by the Metaverse will be ground-breaking and transformative.
What can that look like? For example, imagine a 3D avatar (“digital twin”) that styles itself with branded clothing by designers or controlled by AI. These outfits can be purchased in their original form with just one click. In addition to the sale of physical products, new, digital products can also be offered.
Potential In Home & Living And Electronics
Most initiatives can still be found in the experience-oriented areas of fashion, luxury and beauty. Other segments such as the food trade are still in their infancy. There is great potential in the areas of home & living and electronics. There are synergies with entertainment, gaming and esports and new growth areas can be developed, especially around the NFT economy and new communities. The Adidas brand is early on, sponsoring one of the NFT communities, coupled with limited product editions and targeted marketing via Discord.
The following applies to the future of retail: A simple transfer of the physical point of sale to the digital world is not enough. When retailers engage with the Metaverse, they should rethink the term “store”, detached from the physical surface. The core question should be: Am I the “store” – or the operator of the marketplace? With this new self-image, retailers can add new revenue streams to their business models or reinvent them.
Merchants Operate Digital Marketplaces
Marketplaces and platforms or retail-as-a-service models offer great potential. Merchants can become a marketplace operator and allow partners to sell their offerings in metaverse spaces. In addition to the marketplace, they can offer other software and service modules such as content or retail media. For scaling, efficiencies should be increased through artificial intelligence and automation. In order to remain competitive, it is essential for retailers to build up the appropriate skills here.
In this way, differentiation in the market becomes possible and both growth and profitability can be improved. Another advantage that should not be underestimated: dealers who work on innovative topics such as Metaverse are also very attractive for the new generation of employees.