Shopping in the metaverse

What is the metaverse?

If someone had told you 30 years ago that your customers would be using a mobile telephone to shop and pay, would you have believed them? Today another revolutionary technology is at a similar early stage of development. If the futurists are right, within a generation shoppers will be spending their leisure time and making their purchases within a computer-simulated virtual world: the metaverse.

Someone Shopping in the metaverse and learning about What is the metaverse?

Brave new world.

More limited virtual worlds already exist in some computer games. Users communicate with each other via avatars and make transactions with digital currency. The metaverse takes this concept to the next, more immersive, level. People will use augmented reality and virtual reality headsets to explore futuristic 3D spaces – and yes, to make purchases. According to JP Morgan, the metaverse will be “a second virtual economy that sits on top of, and even competes with, the existing one”.[1]

How merchants benefit.

It may sound like science fiction but for merchants struggling to convert online visits into sales, the metaverse could be a game-changer. Simply put, it will enable businesses to replicate the experience of going to real-world stores and malls – and improve on it. Some big-name brands are already experimenting with the metaverse, and fashion brands are creating digital stores in virtual worlds. Sales of real estate in the metaverse topped $500 million in 2021[2]. By 2026, Gartner predicts, a quarter of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse and about 30% of the world’s organisations will have metaverse products and services[3].

Challenges of the many-worlds interpretation.

Let’s leave aside the obvious need for technology to develop and make the metaverse ready for primetime. One of the main challenges to any business thinking about joining the metaverse is the sheer proliferation of competing worlds. This makes it hard for merchants to define their strategy. Who would want to invest in real estate on the virtual equivalent of MySpace? The market is unregulated, hype and speculation are rife, and there will be some casualties on the way to the future of commerce.

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