Everyone from Walmart (filing trademarks for NFTs, creating its own cryptocurrency) to Gucci (opening a virtual multi-store in Roblox) has been trying to imagine what the metaverse will look like. Brands that get it right will bring digital wallets, gaming, and mixed realities together, along with digital storytelling and new forms of engagement — a kind of 360-degree retail.
Brands are banking on the metaverse as the platform that will leave digital catalogs (even that well-used Amazon app) in the dust, one not confined by device, medium, or channel. Some are already filling their digital shelves with products that will get your crypto wallet twitching. They’re developing creative and interactive experiences where the pixelated sky’s the limit.
Why? To excite the next generation, already buried in their smartphones and video games, about shopping for goods, services, and even real estate in an entirely new way. You’ll access and immerse yourself in this world with lightweight, affordable VR and AR headsets, a voice assistant obeying your every command. Our real-life and digital selves merge into one representation, and our avatars become us—a so-called phygital, along with data on our tastes and preferences. Brands will tap into this, merging the virtual and digital worlds into a seamless shopping experience.
What does retail look like in the metaverse? Here’s our guide to how we might shop ’til we drop in the future.
Visit app stores or digital marketplaces in virtual space. Drop into awe-inspiring digital hangouts to see concerts, entertainment, and fashion shows. Be enticed by storefronts and personalized offers. Browse with friends away from crowded physical malls.
Virtual real estate
Retailers buy prime digital plots in the metaverse. The “land” will be used to develop metaverse commerce projects or fully immersive digital shopping centers. Republic Realm, a metaverse real estate firm, recently paid Sandbox $4.3 million for a plot of virtual land, the largest public virtual real-estate deal ever.
So-called d-commerce allows metaverse transactions to happen peer-to-peer, just like in the real world, without relying on a centralized intermediary. It will allow communities to evolve new experiences and pop-ups, while people will be able to create new value, enabled by smart contracts.
Gaming is now a major sales platform for retailers where real-world and digital goods are bought, gifted, and exchanged. In 2020, around $54 billion was spent on virtual goods, skins, and lives.