How the Metaverse Will Change E-Commerce
When e-commerce hit the world, it completely changed the shopping we knew. No more going to the mall, visiting hundreds of stores, trying on to find what you want, and no more waiting in the checkout to pay for the items. Online shopping was surely revolutionary then.
Now we’re so used to it, that we don’t even notice how much our lives have changed. And when it seemed like nothing else could change our lives more, metaverse came into the light.
Especially after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of the company to Meta, everyone started to talk about metaverse. If you didn’t know it, Meta was named after metaverse, for the ambitious goal to make metaverse real.
But what is metaverse and what does it have to do with e-commerce? If you’re new to the metaverse and want to understand how it will change the business world, then you’re in the right place. We’re going to find the answers to these questions right away.
What is Metaverse?
The reason why it’s hard to explain what metaverse is because it doesn’t exist yet. Imagine what people thought of the Internet in the 1970s or 1980s, the same goes on now for the metaverse. Some say it’s a virtual universe, but that’s only partially true. It’s better to say that metaverse is a combination of virtual and physical worlds.
Metaverse doesn’t refer to any particular technology. It can use all the existing technologies to create a fully immersive experience. AR, VR, e-commerce, NFTs, metaverse brings all of them to the physical world.
If you’ve played the Sims game, you can already understand what metaverse is. Imagine you have an avatar and you can interact with others in the virtual world as you do in the physical world. You can play popular video games, work, shop and socialize without leaving your home or even your couch. All you would need is to connect to a VR headset or simply your PC or smartphone.
You may think that all of that already exists. There are many games that you can play putting on a VR headset and do many more things besides playing. In the World of Warcraft players can buy and sell real estate or goods in the virtual world. Or take the example of NFT metaverses, where users can create their virtual worlds, play games, trade NFTs.
True, all these things already exist, but metaverse will exist on a larger scale. All these technologies would be combined.
How it Will Work
To better understand what it will look like, let’s look at an example.
Imagine you’re lying on your couch, putting on your smart glasses and instantly finding yourself in your office. You may even have a business meeting with all your colleagues there, seeing them and speaking to them in real-time. Then, after work, you can go to a park or go to the movies and hang out with your friends. And all of that without leaving your home.
Though we’ve created many technologies, that seemed impossible some 20 years ago, still, metaverse feels like a sci-fi movie. We would be like in The Matrix movie, and hopefully without the robots controlling us.
What Will E-Commerce Look Like in Metaverse?
Let’s not forget, we’re here to talk about e-commerce. How metaverse can affect e-commerce?
Well, the metaverse is a combination of virtual and physical worlds and the same will go for e-commerce. Getting back to our example, imagine that you go virtual shopping, find some clothes you like, and try them on your holographic avatar. Then you see that you don’t like the color, you change it, choose the size and when you like the look you buy the NFT version of the item. Then the physical version will be delivered directly to your house.
Metaverse will bring many advantages to the world of e-commerce. Let’s explore everything in detail.
Possibility to Try the Product
This isn’t a new thing in e-commerce but in the metaverse, it will be a bit different. You won’t just try some clothes on your photo or through the camera. You would have your holographic 3D-self in the metaverse and can fully see how the clothes would look on you in 3D and maybe even feel the texture.
Some brands already have applied AR technologies to help them try the products. For example, Amazon has a new tool – Room Decorator, which uses AR technologies to help people view with their smartphones what the furniture will look like in their homes. But these technologies are still quite expensive and not all brands can use AR or VR in their e-commerce.
In a couple of years, more brands will use these technologies and when metaverse becomes real, we’ll be able to try all the products without leaving our homes.
E-commerce would reach another level of personalization. You will be able to change all the features of the product you don’t like and make it exactly what you want from it.
In metaverse, shoppers’ experience would be even more customized. You would be able to change the color of the furniture in your home or change the materials, etc. Shoppers will always get what they exactly want and there will be fewer complaints about the products.
Easier Product Discovery
We have already encountered this in e-commerce shops. When you choose a particular brand, specific features of products, you will see more similar products in the future. So you find your beloved brands and products more easily, without wasting time and scrolling through the shop.
In metaverse, you will instantly find what you are looking for. You may be able to tell all your wishes to a virtual assistant and your item would appear right in front of you. And the shop will know that you prefer some products over the others, so they won’t offer you anything you won’t like.
Though, this is a bit problematic topic as there are some privacy issues (like the third-party cookies that are now removed). In metaverse, there could be more issues like this that hopefully will be easily solved.
Seamless Experience for Shoppers
With all that personalization, easy product discovery brands will be able to create seamless, highly customized experiences for all shoppers. When all customers can transform the products, brands would always offer the perfect product for each customer. No one will ever complain and all customers will be satisfied.
In metaverse, the worlds of social media and e-commerce would be merged. Social proof is extremely important in e-commerce as we can see from Amazon reviews and ratings. But in the metaverse, brands will be able to create communities and everyone will be able to engage with the brand.
Besides, all customers will have the chance to attend special events and parties, which are usually limited to a number of people in the real world. People could meet their idols and celebrities while shopping, or even meet fictional characters. There are no limits in the metaverse, and brands would organize special events for all their niches.
What About Advertising?
Advertising will always be there, brands will always find a way to advertise. But it’s difficult to tell what it will look like There are no boundaries in the metaverse, so does this mean there will be unlimited ads? Who knows.
Probably, they will be similar to conventional marketing e.g. billboards. At first, there won’t be many ads, but as the metaverse expands, the numbers will increase.
There are many types of ads in e-commerce now and new types are emerging all the time. In the metaverse, ads would look more real, as we’ll be in a 3D world. There will be more AR, VR, 360 degree and 3D experiences in advertising. And more likely, ads will be even more customized and personalized for shoppers.
Still, it’s hard to predict anything in the metaverse, we’ll just have to wait and see.
You’ve probably heard a lot about NFTs and you should know that NFTs will be an important part of the metaverse. NFTs are digital assets that are unique and non-replaceable. And people now can trade digital art, music, game assets thanks to NFTs’ proof of ownership.
There are already many games based on blockchain technology that are built as metaverses and trade different types of NFTs. In non-NFT games (like Age of Gods), the developers control how you use the game assets. But in the metaverse, you’re the only owner of the assets and you decide how to use or sell them. And this doesn’t apply only to games.
NFTs are basically the proof of ownership and it can’t be faked. So you will be more secure as everything you buy will be linked to your unique account. No one would steal your “resources”.
Besides, the way we pay in the physical world or in e-commerce would be different from paying in the Metaverse. We will, more likely, use cryptocurrencies more or maybe the developers will create new ways of payment.