Adidas, L’Oréal, and even Martha Stewart have already entered the metaverse with their products and brand names. The term “metaverse” conjures up images of the early days of e-commerce twenty years ago. In order to avoid launching an HTML site while the competition is launching an ecommerce platform, they prefer not to do so.
In the metaverse, you’ll find a brand-new game platform, currency, opportunities, and failures. If you want to build for the metaverse, here’s how you can do it.
When you open up a brick-and-mortar store, take advantage of
Right now, the metaverse has the same hazy quality as a 1990s website, and we all know how that storey ended. A whole industry of technology and consultants grew to support ecommerce, paving the way for direct-to-consumer (D2C) retailers to abandon brick-and-mortar stores.
It has been difficult for retailers who have relied on physical locations to differentiate themselves in the digital world to find a way to do so. Sears is one of the best-known examples of this. Sears, a once-dominant department store chain, was overtaken by Nordstrom and Kohls after failing to adapt to omnichannel shopping.
Retailers who have mastered the art of creating memorable experiences and fostering a sense of community in the real world may have an advantage in the metaverse. Why? Instead of focusing solely on digital, retailers should look to expand into the metaverse from their existing physical locations. Because we are physical beings, physical spaces work. There are entire departments devoted to the idea that how we experience things in the real world is of utmost importance. When I’m a customer, it makes me feel good, so I buy more, and it keeps me coming back, all without having to leave the comfort of my couch.
In the digital metaverse, retailers should use that expertise. Creating a metaverse strategy is something that many retailers attempt to delegate to their engineering departments. Use the metaverse to enhance the customer experience rather than re-creating your website. Five years from now, consultants and developers will likely be available to help build the metaverse. Take advantage of your team’s current knowledge and experience in translating brand values and a sense of community into actual physical spaces in order to begin creating the metaverse right away. It’s more important than ever to pay attention to the knowledge and skills of the people behind the scenes of in-person experiences.
Think strategically about retail.
As a whole, the metaverse is not a completely new concept; rather, it’s a collection of previously occurring events. Twenty years ago, the metaverse concept was first proposed. These features will be part of the retail metaverse, which many ecommerce platforms already offer. Trying on make-up without putting it on your face is a novel experience. That was already done by Sephora. Trying to figure out how to arrange your furniture in a room by entering its dimensions? There are a slew of apps available to assist you in visualising your living space. Is it possible to watch a sales associate or ambassador in action? During the pandemic, the use of livestream shopping skyrocketed.
When it comes to the metaverse, what is unique?
With the metaverse, you’re not just watching things on a screen; you’re stepping into an entire world.
Key to success is a deliberate effort to create something new and unique. Retailers’ metaverses must be built on the three pillars of community, experience, and engagement with purpose. It’s not difficult to create a one-off virtual reality game (like I said earlier, a lot of that has already been done). Build an online universe that encourages interaction among users, makes it easier for them to connect with the company, as well as making it more likely that they will become loyal customers.
The first step is to be deliberate in the way you engage with your community.
In today’s hybrid world, companies like Peleton and REI have helped to foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie. Trainers and store employees serve as a bridge between the “average consumer” and likeable and approachable experts. Before launching a new virtual reality game, make sure you have a clear goal in mind.
They may already know what they want their community to be like because of the in-store classes and the shared love of yoga that Lululemon has fostered over the years. Pharmacies and supermarkets will have to delve a little deeper into their pockets to keep up. To get the conversation started, here is a list of questions. Using these questions, retailers can help define the community’s intention before they begin spinning up their new world:
Do I want my customers to enter a world where they feel safe and secure? A real (or imagined) physical store has a distinct smell, which you should consider when creating your design. What’s the best place for people to congregate?” Is there a sales team? Am I opening the doors to a retail store or a manufacturing plant when I greet visitors?
How does the metaverse enhance the experience of my clients? How am I using the metaverse to enhance the livestream shopping experience for my customers? Instead of simply ticking a box or doing the same thing on a different site? No, I’m not attempting to create a new type of forum for enthusiasts or casual browsers to participate in.
Is this solely for the purpose of attracting new customers?
These questions are critical. If you don’t know the answers, you run the risk of creating a jumbled mess.
Secondly, be deliberate with your experiences.
The metaverse’s retail sector offers a previously unimaginable opportunity to gain access to and gain a better understanding of products. Using virtual reality goggles, you can see what your room would look like if you purchased that pink velvet couch from CB2 and also sit down in the room and experience how it all works together. Customers can virtually recreate their backyard, house, car, or even their own body in the metaverse before purchasing art, furniture, or clothing to get an immersive experience.
When building out the metaverse, retailers must avoid the “laundry list” mentality. Be deliberate this time. In the metaverse, one size does not fit all.
Porsche and Kia, for example, both aim to sell automobiles. However, the purpose of the experience will be different because of the type of customer that they have. They’ve got. If you’re a Porsche fan who follows online auctions and knows the engine specs for a 2006 Porsche 911, you’ll want to visit the factory and see how Guards Red paint is made. These details may not be of interest to Kia buyers.
In What Ways Is The Metaverse Helping Customers?
The list of questions retailers need to ask themselves is much shorter than community building. There’s no need for retailers to spend time and money on something that’s already available on Instagram Live or YouTube.
Live-streaming a shopping event where customers can sit next to a brand ambassador, and then immediately step into a virtual dressing room where they can try something on, add it to their cart, and check out is a great way to enhance that personalised experience in the metaverse.
The type of experience being built should dictate how business channels should be incorporated, and this will be a major component of experience building. Retailers should think about how money flows into their universe once they have a clear intention about the vibe of that universe.
What’s Next For the Brands Who’ve Created a Space to Improve the Customer Experience?
Customer experience design and community building are both important, and it’s safe to say that it’s one of the most appealing aspects to customers, but they don’t generate revenue. This is a major barrier to entry for customers who aren’t familiar with cryptocurrencies, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), or digital wallets.
Retailers need to make Web 3.0 simple for customers to understand and use. Customers should be guided from the familiar e-commerce site to the new 3D cryptoverse by commerce platform experts, who should be consulted by commerce companies.
Different brands have implemented NFTs in different ways. A good example of this is Martha Stewart Mint, a website where you can click on a digital record you’re interested in purchasing and be taken to a product description and frequently asked questions about how it all works.
From Martha Fresh Mint’s website:
As a result of a lipstick collection centred on the theme of female empowerment, L’Oreal recently released their first NFT series, which featured leading female digital native artists. OpenSea, the location of the majority of auctions, is more difficult to get to than Martha’s. Cryptocurrency may be too complicated for a novice to understand.
Take into account the original intent that was established around community and experience when incorporating NFTs as a purchasing channel. Retailers should consider how they can connect digital and physical channels. Consider incorporating a physical product drop alongside an NFT purchase. Adidas did this in their drop in December, using Twitter and Discord to promote the upcoming sale. By offering NFTs and a physical product, they can span both channels seamlessly.
Personalized Experiences Bridged From Ecommerce to the Retail Metaverse
Where appropriate, ecommerce retailers should expand digital experiences to concierge-like services where shoppers can build connections with other niche groups and brand ambassadors. AI-powered chatbots do some of this work in ecommerce because they’re cheaper to staff than people, they’re effective if they work, and they’re there to be a one-to-one personal concierge experience. That capability isn’t (yet) available in the metaverse, so brands should consider gating content or events based on consumer behaviour in other platforms, like on the website and social.
Most retailers worth their salt are already collecting customer signals on ecommerce platforms. They understand customer preferences, price threshold, and buying behaviour. Retailers can capture signals from ecommerce and extend gated experiences to specific shopper cohorts. Digital merchandisers play a key role here in creating promotions for trending products, where a purchase gets shoppers access to gated content in the metaverse. Retailers should consider the metaverse as a new selling, marketing, and engagement channel to be incorporated into the omnichannel experience.
The retail metaverse: Retail in 3D
The intersection of unique brand experiences and smart adaptive technology will reach its heights in the metaverse. If retailers remember nothing else, they should remember this: “People first.” It sounds like an oxymoron when you’re talking about escaping into 2D and 3D worlds behind a screen, but the success of the three pillars I’ve shared above — community, experience, and engagement — all hinge on a brand’s ability to bring real, human customers along on this digital journey.