The retail sector has chosen an omnichannel strategy over the last ten years, with firms integrating physical and online retail. Companies are looking into using the metaverse to give their customers an immersive and multimodal experience, which is lacking in the current digital environment, in order to close the gap between physical and digital retail experiences. Metaverse can significantly alter the retail sector when used in conjunction with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) equipment.
The retail industry is currently confronted with numerous challenges and intense competition, including customer service, active customer engagement, customer retention, and loyalty building. To address these issues, players are looking at the metaverse as a solution for recreating the in-store experience of not only physical clothing stores, but also furniture and automobile showrooms, among other places.
Metaverse- The Hot Topic
Facebook’s declaration of rebranding into a metaverse corporation called Meta, is currently a hot subject. The metaverse, according to Mark Zuckerberg, is “the future of the mobile internet.” He claims that a combination of AR and VR technology will allow us to “feel present – like we’re right there with others no matter how far off we actually are”. Major IT firms are pushing the envelope and spending billions on research and development to make metaverse a reality.
These businesses are working very hard to make the metaverse a reality. Unexpectedly, the technology is already more widely used. 17.7% of Americans are predicted to use VR at least once per month this year. Also, 28.1% will employ AR.
With Gartner predicting that 25% of people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse over the next four years, the metaverse promises to have a multifaceted impact on our lives.
Customer Experience in Metaverse
The metaverse uses avatars, or three-dimensional characters, and artificial intelligence to imitate real-world interactions in a virtual environment. The avatars can converse with one another and with representations of actual places, such as stores or shopping centres. The metaverse is currently not expected to replace real, in-person, or even online customer contacts, but it is well-positioned to become a substantial new channel, much like social media did.
- Customer Interaction
Just like in the real world, consumers will be able to communicate with brands in the metaverse. They will peruse shops, make purchases online, make selections from racks or shelves, ask store employees questions about products, “try on” clothing in an online dressing room, and add items to shopping carts. While some companies may choose to recreate their real locations in the metaverse, others may want to create an entirely original online experience.
- Customer Reach
Today’s focus on customer experience is on developing individualized interactions that distinguish your brand from the competition and encourage repeat business. Brands have plenty of opportunities to accomplish that in the metaverse providing imaginative and distinctive experiences, amplifying their personalization efforts, enlarging their audience, increasing the demand for virtual experiences, and offering assistance and customer support.
- Unique Customer Experience
The metaverse is no different from other new technologies in the sense that there are always ways to make it better. In order to create a friction-free, seamless customer experience, brands will need to map the new customer journey, capturing data about where friction occurs and upgrading accordingly. Although it seems like the metaverse would be a good place to nurture innovative and creative experiences, marketers will still need to be aware of and sensitive to their customers’ shifting requirements.
Businesses who already have preparations in place to offer a metaverse consumer experience will have an advantage if the metaverse becomes a reality. Organizations are undoubtedly growing more receptive to the metaverse as 82% of businesses who experiment with AR and VR indicate that the benefits met or exceeded expectations.
Customers often use Facebook Messenger to communicate with their favourite brands today. In the future, Facebook might create a virtual environment where its 2.8 billion users can interact in real time, bringing customer experiences into the metaverse. And it’s unlikely that Facebook is the only business building its own virtual world. How much people will accept these domains is still up for debate. The Metaverse might not be ready to take over the retail sector any time soon. It might, however, evolve into one of many channels via which customers can communicate with companies.