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Future of Retail in the Metaverse

The metaverse is the successor to the mobile internet and the next progression in social connection. Similar to the internet, the metaverse will let you connect with people when you are not physically present in the same place. It brings you a feeling of being together.

Once the technology stabilises, the potential for retail in the metaverse world is to make online shopping more useful and engaging. The global metaverse market size is expected to rise to 678.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2030.

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Exploring Metaverse: What is it?

The metaverse is a virtual reality wherein users can communicate with each other as well as with digital 3D items. It is a perfect blend of physical, augmented, and virtual reality. In other words, the metaverse enables you to access a public virtual world through the internet. Essentially, it prepares a “virtual world” experience by imitating gestures and human emotions. It is an open, dynamic, and interoperable space, identical to the internet but in 3D.

The metaverse entails the whole economic and social structure that happens in both the real and virtual worlds, presenting a lively experience that never pauses or terminates like a game. Its virtual environment allows users to visit places, walk around with friends, purchase items, and even attend events.

A metaverse is a tool that allows consumers to discover better. Metaverse shopping brings online shopping closer to what consumers can undertake in stores without leaving their homes. An example of artificial intelligence in retail is that it allows fashion companies to set up virtual apparel for people’s avatars to dress up in a metaverse environment. 

What it isn’t?

  • The metaverse isn’t real but a play on words.
  • It doesn’t exist in physical space but in digital space only.o
  • It is never constant; with several lines of malicious code, the corresponding virtual experience can disappear for several minutes or days.
  • It is a new medium that is not yet prepared for mainstream use.
  • It’s not essentially a 3D-only experience; you can enjoy the 2D experience too.
  • It’s not a substitute for the web but an evolution instead.
  • The hype around the metaverse is speculating on a future immersive virtual world infrastructure that doesn’t yet exist.

Challenges Accompanying Metaverse

Nobody yet has a clear picture of what the metaverse will become. However, we can enlighten a potential path for retail companies by considering the consumers’ growing engagement, where the metaverse is today, and a few historical parallels. The following section highlights some prominent challenges the metaverse will face.

  1. Reliability: Efforts to illicitly profit from lawsuits and NFTs between companies attempting to stake claims in the metaverse might hamper public trust in this technology.
  2. Broadband support: Most consumers face a dearth of full access to the services and more advanced technology required to operate a metaverse environment.
  3. Obstruction in growth: Technology negatively impacts physical and mental health. Moreover, it employs a high carbon footprint due to relevant blockchain and crypto activities. Hence, there is a hindrance to the growth of metaverse technologies and artificial intelligence in retail.
  4. User experience: Currently, the aspects of the metaverse seem awkward and cartoonish, which may cause many consumers to lose interest after this innovation subsides.
  5. Interoperability: The metaverse embraces multiple worlds. It’s uncertain if the users can easily travel and get expensive digital products among them.

Countless Possibilities

Metaverse allows you to explore the following possibilities:

i. Integration of branding and marketing

You can access a metaverse store from any part of the world, enabling brands to boost their visibility and broaden their customer base. There is a decent scope for branding and placing ads in the metaverse in online games. The same entails selling clothing to digital avatars and the formation of co-branded virtual environments wherein gaming interactions happen.

ii. Improved brand exposure

Metaverse shopping enhances the online shopping experience. Retail AI allows retailers to enlarge their presence via virtual billboards and responsive advertisements with reduced noise than the prevalent online and mobile channels. One example of metaverse AI in retail is Cloud Nine, an IT services company. It is the first company to advertise its services on virtual billboards in Decentraland and commits to the metaverse.

 iii. Engaging customer experience

Metaverse provides exceptional customer experiences to engage effectively with brands via contests, events, and game-like features. These experiences are expected to boost brand engagement and loyalty.

iv. Customer experience customisation

Metaverse allows retailers to personalise customer experiences. Similar to how retailers can personalise customers’ online experiences via data collection, they can also personalise customer experiences in the virtual environment.

Why should retail owners care?

Retail owners must care for the metaverse because the technology can make shopping more interactive and engaging. Here are a few more points justifying why they should care about it.

i. Real-time insights into consumers’ preferences

One of the best attributes of the metaverse is the adoption of personalised digital avatars. It provides brands with detailed real-time insights into their consumers’ preferences. Through retail analytics, brands can use these insights to enhance their services and customer loyalty.

ii. Increases brand visibility

You can access a metaverse store from anywhere in the globe. Hence, the metaverse assists retail owners in boosting their visibility and broadening their consumer base through retail data analytics.

iii. Better customer engagement

Retail stores can provide customers with a 3D visual experience and better engagement via the metaverse. This is possible by effectively filling the immersive gap. Presently, famous online shopping platforms can’t offer such an experience that draws customers towards offline product tryouts and online purchases; or drop-offs. Retailers benefit from customer engagement and satisfying customer experience because metaverse allows customers to try out various products from the comfort of their homes.

How are companies preparing for this?

Companies are adopting the following approaches to prepare for the metaverse:

Updating tech stack with composable commerce

Composable commerce is gaining more significance, and many businesses are adopting this architecture based on the rules of MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless). Consequently, it is becoming more future-proof and agile. The MACH software’s flexibility allows retailers to respond quickly, add new channels (for example, the metaverse), and beat competitors. Hence, future-proofing your tech stack is a way to enlighten the future of the metaverse.   

Incorporating a growing amount of data

Typically, the product data will stay the same in the metaverse; only VR designs have to be added. The immersive VR experience will be the upcoming e-commerce channel to enhance the customer experience. Hence, companies must think about valuable product information management to assemble, manage and broadcast a huge amount of data.

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Recurrent testing

During the development phase of the metaverse, retailers can test low-risk cases that perfectly suit their niche. Retail AI can implement a strategy in which the first step can be to sell digital versions of physical goods. Subsequently, retailers can add AR/VR features (like a virtual tour or 360° view) to their stories. Alternatively, they can develop an app that makes it simpler to test the product.

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 Takeaway

Retailers must explore the metaverse world and prepare to adopt it to create a digital asset. With the evolution in technology and more enterprises establishing a presence, businesses that perfectly blend the two worlds (virtual and physical) are the ones likely to succeed. This is because, with AI in retail, they can deliver quality consumer experiences. 

Irrespective of what the future of metaverse holds, it is essential to stay agile, make services and products more easily accessible, and personalise the customer journey. The best way to ensure staying relevant in the business with ample in-demand skills is to upskill, and upGrad provides you with just the right opportunity to achieve the same!

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Offered under the guidance of Liverpool John Moores University and IIIT-B, this 18-month course offers extraordinary benefits to tackle industry challenges. With over 750+ hours of learning, 15+ case studies and assignments, career mentorship sessions, and daily doubt resolution, upGrad promises a bright AI future to learners hoping to explore this expanding field. From Deep Learning to Advanced Regression, aspirants are fueled with all the relevant skills required to excel in this highly competitive industry. 

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What can you do with metaverse?

Through metaverse technology, you can effortlessly wear virtual reality glasses that provide the user with the feeling of physically being there facing a companion, although they are physically detached and only connected over the internet. Activities such as gaming and shopping are also accessible.

How do you access the metaverse?

You can access the metaverse on various devices like your computer or phone and virtual reality devices, where you get a fully immersive experience. Currently, plenty of the metaverse-like experiences provided by gaming platforms like Decentraland, Roblox, and Minecraft can be accessed via mobile devices or browsers and a speedy internet connection.

What is the difference between the internet and the metaverse?

The key difference between the internet and the metaverse is that the internet is real, whereas the metaverse is a simulation. The internet works as a network of countless servers, comprising billions of computers and various electronic devices. The metaverse doesn't aim to compete with the internet but leverages its power to build an entirely new virtual realm on it.

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