The Metaverse – Transcending ecommerce as we know it – Retailing Africa


by Leanne Goott. The metaverse experience, with its emphasis on hyper-personalisation, will eclipse any current ecommerce strategies and approaches. Eventually, as an inhabitable, virtual macrocosm with endless possibilities, the metaverse’s sweep will affect all sectors and industries. Its impact on business, on how we market, sell and shop, will be nothing short of revolutionary.

The metaverse is going to be real-world, and it’s being built at this very moment. The time for brands to do their homework and prepare for entry into this virtual landscape is now. The day comes when your brand’s reputation will be judged by how well it has colonised branding’s new arena. While there are skeptics and those who prefer being cautious about speculating on the metaverse’s future potential, this is likely to quickly change in the next few years. Already we have big buy-in from the world’s tech giants plus major consumer brands, as well as this incredible promise of frontier technologies that will animate and drive our world’s digital twin.

Metaverse commerce

When the metaverse develops into a fully-functional reality, and people start experiencing its true power, ecommerce may very well become an obsolete concept. The main benefits of ecommerce are convenience, access to product catalogues from across the globe, and purchase speed. Yet, it’s mostly a detached, solitary affair, which also sidesteps the physical sampling of products by merely providing pricing, pics and specs. Shopping in the metaverse, on the other hand, will be an immersive experience that merges the physical and digital world and that will bring new vigour to the joy of shopping. This kind will transcend brick and mortar realities.

Our physical and digital selves will become one embodiment of our tastes and preferences and how we project ourselves to the world – you’ll also be able to dress your avatar in a way that’s an extension of yourself, or you can decide on a different virtual presence. For those who opt for the latter, the idea is not to mislead but to seize this world-building opportunity through a rebirth of the self.

The notion of being anywhere, anytime, and with anyone in any situation, is both intriguing and possibly liberating. From the comfort of home and using your digital twin, you’ll be able to visit multiple stores anywhere in the world and at any time of day. Fully kitted with voice and eye control headsets and haptic gloves that track; in the space of one hour, you can visit a shopping mall in Australia, test drive a Bugatti in France, and quickly pop in at your local supermarket.

Unlike the current ecommerce experience, shopping in the metaverse will also be a highly social outing. You’ll be able to get advice from shop assistants, chat with other customers’ avatars, and have friends and family join in, even if they reside on another continent. One crucial area that the metaverse promises to deliver on is the customer’s expectation of personalised service, the kind that current ecommerce is not capable of.

Meta-personalisation

Research by McKinsey shows that companies which excel at personalisation generate 40% more revenue on average; and that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. In today’s competitive retail landscape, it’s also easier than ever for consumers to shift from one brand to another if they have an experience that is bland or impersonal. Moreover, any marketing campaign that still groups customers by persona or segment, is quickly becoming outdated. Consumers want to be treated as individuals who have unique characteristics and preferences. They want to associate with brands with the will and tech capacity to get to know them and recognise that their realities and needs are dynamic.

The metaverse has the potential to take personalisation to a whole new level, one where there will be greater bonds between consumers and brands, and where every interaction is unique and personal. Hyper-personalised marketing strategies powered by data, analytics and AI will drive metaverse shopping journeys, not just to meet customers’ needs but to anticipate and exceed them.

As the metaverse continues to evolve and its tech developments keep accelerating and opening new customer engagement possibilities, companies excelling in the metaverse will make the best use of the customer data and information they gather. Top brands such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Ferrari, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Nike, among many others, have already taken the metaverse plunge. Their goal: to offer consumers the most immersive, bespoke virtual experience that transcends traditional commerce approaches and strategies. And more and more companies are going meta by the day.

The current ecommerce experience has served its purpose and is still helping us through a pandemic, but the time is quickly coming to embrace the immense potential the metaverse holds for commerce and our shopping journeys.

 

Main image credit: Supplied.

 

 

Leanne Goott is marketing manager of Mobile in Africa (MIA). Her more than 12 years of experience includes digital marketing strategy and execution, integrated marketing, team and relationship management, and event management. She believes the role of marketing in an age of greater connectivity and intensifying customer expectations, has never been more important.

 

 

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