As early as the 2000s, many companies were faced with an important decision: dare to take the step towards e-commerce? And if so: Do you go through retail, or do you even dare to sell directly to your own customers?
The skeptics believed that this emerging trend could never replace the “real shopping experience”. However, some forward-looking brands such as Adidas or Nike showed courage and creativity and ventured into online trading – with success. Nowadays, there is great agreement worldwide that online sales lead to increased convenience and thus to an improved customer experience. E-commerce has become an integral part of normal everyday life.
Today, in 2022, we find ourselves at a similar crossroads with the Metaverse hype. At least since the renaming of Facebook to Meta, the Metaverse is well known to everyone. A persistent, decentralized digital world that merges with people, places and objects of the physical world? It sounds abstract at first, but the potential of the Metaverse for brands and thus for e-commerce is almost unlimited. In virtual worlds, there are no limits to the imagination of the “creators” – both in terms of the brand experience and the development of communities and completely new business models.
The future is called Metaverse
So the potential for e-commerce in the Metaverse is infinite. It’s not for nothing that more and more brands are taking their first steps into the Metaverse – it’s an incredibly exciting new channel and therefore offers marketers many opportunities to connect with Millennials and Gen Z. But more than that: More and more users will consume in the Metaverse in the future. Bloomberg estimates the market volume of the metaverse economy at around 800 billion US dollars for 2024 alone.
In addition, according to the OMD annalec survey from 2022, a full 61% of brands are either already active in the metaverse or are interested in getting started. The engagement that pioneering brands are already seeing for their Metaverse activities shows that Metaverse Experiences inspire consumers and have the potential to catch on. For example, Dyson launched a virtual showroom in November 2021, which is available as an app via Meta’s Oculus store and made its consumer products, such as the popular hair styling devices and vacuum cleaners, experienceable and purchasable.
E-Commerce in the Metaverse: Luxury groups show how it can work
Well-known luxury fashion groups such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga are already active in the Metaverse. For example, last year Italian fashion house Gucci offered a wide range of digital items for sale, from virtual sneakers for $13 to a one-of-a-kind handbag for more than $4,000.
These and many other examples make it clear that people are willing to spend money on virtual possessions. Be it in the form of augmented reality filters, with which you can try on virtual fashion on your own body, through integration in open marketplaces such as Decentraland, Roblox and Meta’s Horizon or through specially created showrooms and virtual stores. It is not only since Covid that we humans spend a large part of our time online. Our “digital self” is becoming increasingly relevant and the acquisition of virtual goods will become normal in the near future. Probably the most popular form of these virtual goods are currently “non-fungible tokens” (NFTs), which offer us the possibility to exchange virtual objects (such as art, digital avatars, clothing etc.) or assets between people, companies and authors transfer.