E-commerce in the Metaverse: how to adapt your virtual store

The metaverse can be the next step for your e-commerce, as the platform offers personalization, proximity to the customer, and a unique shopping experience, through artificial intelligence and 3D features.

The metaverse can be the next step for your e-commerce, as the platform offers personalization, proximity to the customer, and a unique shopping experience, through artificial intelligence and 3D features.

If you live in the real world, you’ve heard about the metaverse, a concept created by the writer Neal Stephenson in 1992 in the book “Snow Crash”. However, it was in October 2021 that the term gained widespread popularity, with an announcement by Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s name change to Meta.

To set the perspective, searches for the term “metaverse” rose from October 2021, and even though the trend lost some momentum, there are still considerable daily search volumes, according to Google Trends data.

Google Trends chart for the “Metaverse” term searches, August 2021

Although Mark wants to credit the concept of the metaverse to his company, this virtual parallel universe has been around for some time. The game The Sims, released in the 2000s, was one of the pioneers, offering the possibility to build houses and even cities in a virtual universe. Another good “old school” example is Roblox games, a virtual universe created in 2006 for gamers that offers the possibility of creating avatars for an even more immersive gaming experience.

This great change in the virtual reality scenario came with the announcement of Meta’s billion-dollar investment to popularize the virtual experience. The company decided to do so utilizing a variety of directions, i.e. through Horizon World (a platform that allows the creation of virtual worlds), Horizon Venues (a place to create virtual events ), and Horizon Workrooms (a space for virtual meetings). Also worth mentioning is the more affordable sale of VR glasses (by Quest).

In December 2021, when Meta launched Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues in the US and Canada, the platform reached 300,000 users. In an interview with CNBC, in June 2022, Zuckerberg stated that he expects about 1 billion users in the metaverse to make purchases through the digital interface.

Furthermore, according to market research by Gartner, by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, or entertainment.

The big question is: will this fad catch on? And if it does, how will it be possible to adapt to it? In this article, we bring some tips for virtual store owners to surf the wave of the metaverse, both in the real world and in the virtual world.

What is the Metaverse?

In a simplified way, the metaverse is a 100% virtual environment that offers “almost” authentic experiences, with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality tools, such as VR glasses, for example.

Thereby, we can understand the metaverse as a hybrid universe that brings virtual reality closer to physical reality, in a concept also known as “phygital”.

This is an ideal scenario for the development of e-commerce, which can benefit from the best of both worlds, both in the real aspect — which represents the physical delivery of products to customers, as well as the virtual aspect — in which it offers personalized shopping experiences and a unique after-sales relationship through the gathering of customer data and its processing through machine learning, enhancing the customer intelligence for e-commerce.

But what does it take to have an online store in the metaverse?

How to set up a virtual store in the metaverse?

The process of creating a store in the metaverse is very similar to creating an online store, use the right tools. Let’s understand some of them.

Augmented Shopping

Augmented reality is one of the main differentials needed for virtual stores in the metaverse since it offers the possibility for the customer to experience the product virtually. 

Augmented shopping is already a reality for e-commerce in the fashion and apparel sectors through virtual fitting rooms. In Brazil, one of the pioneers of this technology was LIVO, a national eyewear brand that offers the possibility of a virtual fitting room, in which the user sends a photo over the internet and can try on the glasses, without leaving their home. 

LIVO Virtual Taster is an example of augmented shopping – Photo: LIVO Reproduction

Another part of augmented shopping is to offer 3D product images so that users can have a shopping experience that is as close to physical reality as possible.

Gamification

The concept of gamification is not new, and it was through games that virtual universes became popular. It’s no wonder that Balenciaga, one of the biggest fashion brands in the world, has created a complete collection of clothing for Roblox avatars. 

But this concept can be applied to engage consumers with your virtual store. Through virtual challenges, it is possible to interact with customers and offer promotional codes or special gifts to those who can complete a task. 

Lacta bets on games to make the shopping experience more fun and interactive, offering challenges such as egg hunts, memory games, and a quiz that helps to select the gift according to the recipient’s profile.

To meet the expectations of an increasingly demanding public, e-commerces that intend to venture into the metaverse need to rely on internet 3.0 to guarantee personalized searches, offering users what they are looking for. 

For this, a system based on Machine Learning is needed to predict consumer behavior according to the data processed by Artificial Intelligence.

This process becomes easier with Voice Commerce, which allows a conversation between the customer and the virtual store, in which he offers more information than in interaction through typing.

Virtual Communities

The metaverse allows the creation of different worlds, or virtual communities, in which it is possible to build a community of loyal customers who provide organically social proof for your e-commerce, through the exchange of successful shopping experiences.

Payment methods

When immersing your business in a 100% digital universe, it is necessary to adapt payment conditions to this reality. Thus, for e-commerces in the metaverse, payment via cryptocurrencies and blockchain is a necessity.

Now that you know the main tools for e-commerce in the metaverse, see the products that can be sold in this parallel universe.

What to sell in the metaverse?

Two products can be sold in the metaverse, real goods, and virtual goods, also known as NFTs.

Real goods in the metaverse

Yes, it is possible to sell your real products in an online store in the metaverse. In this scenario, the metaverse store serves as a showcase, a place that will offer the customer an almost real shopping experience, in which he will be able to try the product, test it, see all the details, and at the time of purchase, they will be redirected to the e-commerce to complete the payment and receive the real product at home.

Virtual goods in the metaverse

Another possibility is to use the metaverse store to sell virtual goods, also known as NFTs. These virtual products have a digital signature for credibility’s sake, and they can be used by their customers’ avatars in the metaverse, either as a garment or a piece of furniture for the user’s virtual home.

Below is an example of e-commerce in the metaverse that sought a virtual immersion to improve users’ shopping experience, and to sell more products in the real world.

Example of e-commerce in the metaverse

Lacta Store 360º for the Metaverse – Photo: Reproduction

After achieving a 91% growth in sales through e-commerce in 2020, Lacta invested in a 360º Store for the metaverse in 2022, to provide a better shopping experience for the user.

“Store 360º in the metaverse was a great success at Christmas, with a conversion six times higher than traditional e-commerce”, he explained. Theo Vieira, e-commerce director at Mondelēz Brasil, for the E-commerce Brazil portal.

Lacta’s store for the metaverse was developed by ByondXR, a pioneer in metaverse solutions, by creating a virtual environment that mimics the real-life store.

What is the future of e-commerce in the metaverse?

Of course we don’t know the future, but regarding the impact of the metaverse on e-commerce, it is certain that we will have increasingly demanding consumers, eager for virtual shopping experiences that mimic reality, offering as much personalization as possible.

For this, your e-commerce needs a CRM that understands the needs of a virtual store and transforms your database into a sales machine.

Edrone offers a CRM tool for e-commerce combined with Digital Marketing Automations tailored to virtual stores.

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