While shopping in the metaverse combines the best of both worlds for consumers—the convenience of online shopping and the social element of shopping in physical stores—it won’t replace the role of the physical store.
Yes, it will add new sales and promotion channels to stores and businesses, but it shouldn’t be thought of as a standalone environment in this sense.
The metaverse can be brought into physical storefronts to augment the physical store and serve as a showroom for brands. At the same time, metaverse stores can also be linked to physical stores using live streaming services. According to Showpad CEO, Hendrik Isebaert, sales representatives will likely use extended reality interfaces and virtual showrooms to provide customers with an enhanced and personalized shopping experience.
Alternatively, some stores only exist in the metaverse. For example, brands that sell digital assets as NFTs only have a digital presence, but metaverse stores will not only sell digital products. Physical products can already be purchased in the metaverse and then shipped to the customer.
The Business Case for Virtual Stores
Many metaverse environments have an e-commerce system that lets people buy physical and digital goods with fiat money or crypto. For example, fulfillment by SPACE is very similar to Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) system: merchants ship their products to the warehouse, and then everything is taken care of for them, from storage to packing to shipping to refunds, etc., all while offering consumer-friendly shipping options and rates. SPACE is also innovating and disrupting the phygitals market, allowing sellers to turn their products into phygitals (minting and selling NFTs as an addition to the physical product).
But why would a retailer want to sell their physical products in a virtual store in the metaverse, and why would consumers want to buy them?
- Show products in animated and interactive ways
- Build exciting brand experiences
- Offer phygitals as a new business concept
- Enable 24/7 shopping, with access from anywhere
- Create a social shopping experience
- Automate the sales process
- Personalize the shopping experience
Based on just these benefits, it’s easy to see why retailers would get excited about these possibilities and go ahead and create their own metaverse shopfront or rent a store in a metaverse mall. But how can they then bring the physical products into the metaverse?
Using flat 2D images of 3D products for sale defeats the point of being in a 3D environment, which is to be immersed in it.
SPACE metaverse is working on a built-in feature that will allow its users to easily create 3D models of their physical items based on a set of 2D images. This will allow shop owners to show their products in 3D and create new forms of interactive product engagement.
Communities Still Need Physical Stores
As these examples show, virtual stores in the metaverse give both shop owners and customers exciting new options, but they will never be able to completely replace the needs of physical stores in our communities. Just like Netflix didn’t replace movie theaters but was adapted as a new way to watch movies, the metaverse will be next to or inside physical stores and add to the way people shop in the real world and on the Internet.
So, let’s rephrase this question then and instead ask, ‘how can the metaverse enhance the physical shopping experience?’
We still have a long way to go until shopping in the metaverse is as common as in the physical world. Many assumptions still need to be tested, such as whether the principles of physical and 2D Internet sales techniques will apply in the metaverse. SPACE is dedicated to finding these answers through behavioral economics experiments in the metaverse—we develop shopping simulations for this purpose and test new and innovative ways to enhance user engagement and satisfaction, ultimately boosting conversion rates.
Check out our current storefronts for the next iteration of SPACE shops with your friends using an Oculus Quest headset, and get a glimpse into the Metaverse’s future of shopping. Document your experience on video and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #SPACEMetaverse.
Myth #6: Is the Metaverse Only for Gen Z and Gamers?
The metaverse isn’t just for one particular generation or group of people with a common interest.
Instead, we should see it as similar to how we interact in our everyday lives—offering different people different types of interactions and experiences, such as games, shopping, or any other form of entertainment, its the driving core experience the metaverse needs to deliver.
It’s Not All Fun and Games
Some metaverse companies are building gamified, social-commerce metaverse environments that are appealing to many different generations of people for many different reasons. These could be NFT-related, co-working spaces, events, and much more. For example, SPACE is a gamified commercial metaverse, but users can also enjoy the activities and events, socialize, go on shopping trips, and visit museums and art exhibitions, in the environment even without participating in the core game itself — there’s something in for everyone.
While some Metaverse platforms obviously take the gaming approach, it doesn’t have to be for gaming only. The Metaverse is a new social medium that creates not only new communication channels where users can interact with others based on their interests but also shop, play, work, and learn together.
The Metaverse will not be a VR game or simply an immersive communication platform; it will serve multiple purposes, just like today’s Internet but in 3D.
Users Will Determine the Outcome
While the Metaverse will be for everyone with a device and decent internet connection, it is geared more toward Gen Z.
It’s easy to see why when, according to Showpad’s new report, in-person sales are declining — 92% of millennials and Gen Z buyers prefer shopping virtually, and overall, 86% of buyers now prefer to shop this way, with no face-to-face meetings. This trend is poised to increase rapidly in the near future.
So, the real question is, who will be first? What groups are attracted to the concept, and who will join first?
From a statistical perspective, Generation Alpha will be the one to truly adopt the metaverse. Why? As children, they are already programmed through their experience of community-driven platforms such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. Through those experiences, they have already been conditioned to be well-versed in these online social hubs — they not only physically play at school and at friends’ houses, but they also head to the Metaverse for entertainment and socialization purposes.
Whoever uses the metaverse, will drive the development of content and determine its style, look, functions, features, and social rules for years to come. But this doesn’t need to turn into an ‘age thing’ — anyone and everyone should be able to use it if they want.
More importantly, aspects such as geographical location, socioeconomic status, personality, and other real-life characteristics will be considered. People who use the metaverse will use it to do what they like to do, what interests them, and what’s important to them in their physical lives, which may not be what other people like to do or deem important; it will act as an extension of real life.
That’s why it’s essential to strive for diverse communities within the metaverse and attract people from all walks and calibers of life, who come for different purposes, have different interests and expectations, and have different skills and life experiences.
The metaverse will be—and already is — created by the users for the users.
For example, if there is an idea, a need, a community, or a niche, it will find its way into the metaverse. Just like there’s something on the Internet for everyone, there will be something in the metaverse for everyone. The available experiences and digital worlds will be user-driven and defined, and the content within them will be created by its users.
SPACE’s recipe for the ideal Metaverse involves making it attractive to the masses — for everyone. We push against the Metaverse age stereotype — our visitors’ average age is 32.
Want to learn more about SPACE Metaverse? Try it out here!