By Joey Ricard - May 17, 2022
The way consumers engage and shop online is changing. Today, socializing or shopping through real-time immersive and interactive content like video games, social media AR filters, etc., are as normal as breathing or eating. And with time, consumer behavior will only lean further toward more advanced technologies that ensure a smoother consumer experience, such as metaverse in eCommerce.
For years retailers have been trying hard to close the gap between offline and online shopping. But their gimmicks mostly rely on discounts and free deliveries. Though these incentives work as short-term solutions, they are not sustainable in the long run. And while online retailers started rethinking their way of approaching online customers and improving the online experience for their users, technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality came in.
And now that the news of metaverse entering the game is making headlines, we must not turn a blind eye to the enormous potential this technology has in completely revolutionizing the online shopping experience!
In the 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson, the term “Metaverse” first appeared, where it referred to a virtual world that anyone could access with an internet connection.
Now, in real life, the concept of Metaverse gained prominence right after Facebook announced its rebranding to Meta in October 2021. Facebook changing its parent name to Meta to pursue the unending possibilities of metaverse caused a frenzy worldwide. As per Facebook, metaverse refers to the unification of virtual and physical realities, which can enable lifelike peer-to-peer interaction in a digital environment. Combining the virtual reality and augmented reality elements, the metaverse can imitate real-world experiences where one would be able to do activities like walking, running, frolicking, etc.
But wait, the metaverse is not a single product that a single company can own or create. The Facebook CEO has told The Verge to consider metaverse as the “successor to the mobile internet”. The metaverse can exist just like the internet exists, whether there is Facebook or not.
Plus, Facebook is not the only flagbearer of the metaverse concept. Others, too, are taking distributed and centralized approaches towards mainstreaming mixed reality environments like metaverse with the help of AR and VR software development. There are the big tech elites like Microsoft, Nvidia (Omniverse), and Epic Games, who have already started investing in their Metaverse projects.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the metaverse technology marketplace is expected to reach $800 billion by 2025 and probably the threshold of $2.5 trillion by 2030.
Mark Zuckerberg has referred to Metaverse as the future of social networking, explaining that it is an evolution of the present internet experience that can revolutionize the way people interact online. In this digital reality, AR, VR, online gaming, social media, cryptocurrencies everything is combined to take the virtual interaction between users to another level, which also means a huge transformation for the future of eCommerce development. And that is what we are about to find out next!
The ultimate objective of all these technologies is to offer an immersive shopping experience that can make online shoppers feel like they are in a physical store. And fulfilling that objective of closing the gap between the real-life experience of a product and its virtual presentation, these technologies are now offering opportunities to try, touch, and feel products before purchasing.
For example, luxury brands rely on providing a premium experience to the customers and believe that it cannot be replicated online. But thanks to AR VR tech and their successful implementation, it has been possible to create magnificent virtual environments that can boost client relations and loyalty. Gucci, Timberland, Lacoste, ASOS, and Burberry are some of the reputed brands that use virtual augmented reality to keep their customers more engaged throughout their shopping journey.
Yes, we already have many 3D virtual worlds. But the problem is they are not interoperable. Now metaverse aims to obliterate this gap. The concept of the metaverse is to improve the shopping experience of online shoppers by offering a virtual environment to the shoppers with specific payment methods or products as individual items or Non-Fungible Token. Like the Snow Crash movie, the metaverse will be a virtual world, accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And using VR headsets or VR equipment, users will have a fantastic online shopping experience in this alternate world. Here, the users will be represented by an avatar that will be better versions of them.
We all know AR and VR! Both are the two types of extended reality that more and more brands are using to transform the online shopping experience.
AR augmented reality combines real-life objects with digital information. The 2016 Pokemon Go is one fine example of this technology where the players chased virtual Pokemon characters in the real world.
When it comes to eCommerce, from giving a 360-degree view of products to product demonstrations, the use of augmented reality shopping online helps users get an idea of how the product looks or works in real life. Trying on clothes virtually without going to a store or leaving your home is one example of an AR application in eCommerce. With AR technology, people can view and interact with the digital content superimposed on their real-world view.
VR in shopping, on the other hand, offers a more immersive shopping experience by creating a simulated environment through head-mounted gears. Entering into a virtual store and browsing through products as if the products were there is an example of virtual reality in eCommerce. Plus, such applications of VR in the home decor industry help users get a better idea of how the product they are planning to buy will fit into their life through a mocked-up or virtually generated version of their house.
The metaverse is neither AR nor VR. Instead, we need both AR and VR devices to access the metaverse. People often think that metaverse means using the internet in virtual reality. But, virtual reality or VR headset is just a means of accessing the metaverse.
Virtual and augmented reality are the cornerstones of metaverse projects. For example, AR systems are being used to serve the three essential features of metaverse projects, i.e., coupling the real environment with the virtual one, offering exact 3D visualization of objects, and ensuring real-time interaction.
Plus, AR also adds immersive elements to the objects. On the other hand, VR is being used to provide consumers with a completely simulated and sensory experience in the digital world similar to their physical reality. While exploring augmented reality websites, users don’t require any ad-hoc wearables to experience it, VR requires additional equipment like multimodal projection screens or head-mounted displays, making the latter more expensive than AR. But when it comes to the metaverse VR apps, users will experience the combination of AR and VR.
Imagine yourself in a virtual avatar exploring a virtual store the way you like and talking to other shoppers in their virtual avatars! Cool, right?
This scene that I just described here is neither from any Hollywood sci-fi flick nor any sci-fi-based game sequence. Thanks to the metaverse, this scene will be a reality of eCommerce soon!
We already know the advantage of virtual reality in eCommerce and ARl. But unlike VR, MR (Mixed Reality), or augmented reality in eCommerce, metaverse can create a virtual world where online shoppers will be able to walk around the virtual stores, try on the clothes they like and even interact with fellow shoppers and store employees. They will have a more personal and interactive shopping experience with metaverse. Physical barriers have always been the primary obstacle to online business. But Metaverse can help get over this obstacle.
Imagine yourself as a consumer wanting to buy a pair of shoes. But the nearest shop that sells good shoes is pretty far from where you live. And you lack the time to go all the way to the store. Hence, purchasing the shoes online becomes the best option for you. But in such scenarios, consumers often have doubts that give visiting a physical store the upper hand. And that is where the metaverse will come to the rescue!
Unlike usual purchasing over the internet, metaverse can bring the entire store to the consumers virtually and allow them to shop the way they would in reality, in a physical shop.
So you see, once making the most out of metaverse becomes possible, eCommerce will reach a whole new level. As per reports, eCommerce can even reach hundreds of millions of dollars within ten years of joining metaverse.
A united, interoperable metaverse can still be a long way off. We don’t know when we will reach the point of one-metaverse-for-all. But in the meantime, we can experience various individual metaverse-like projects.
Do you know that Amazon has already introduced metaverse to its eCommerce segment? With augmented rooms, i.e., Amazon View, Amazon has started to transform the online shopping experience. An extension of the metaverse, Amazon View, offers the basic layout of the users’ house in 3D.
In this virtual room, users can smoothly and accurately swipe the items. Buyers wanting to check out the ambiance, aesthetics, and interior design of a room, can find this metaverse extension very useful. Users can even use it to decorate the virtual representation of their actual rooms to see how it looks before buying the products.
Metaverse is supposed to be a completely virtual world, enabling user avatars to let their experience work, shopping, and more in virtual reality. And we are yet to find out what more it can do to transform the online shopping experience as it requires infrastructure and servers with extensive digital potential.
Interactivity and interoperability (where one metaverse app will be interoperable between other metaverse platforms) are the two most defining characteristics of Metaverse. And we are yet to achieve this interoperability. Plus, more technical resources are required to get fully immersed in the metaverse.
Given the rapidly rising competition in the retail industry, staying up to date with the technologies that can take the user experience to the level of “wow” is necessary. And in this regard, consulting with a reliable eCommerce web development company like us can be beneficial!
Metaverse will transform and revolutionize online shopping in the coming years. It will be the next advanced phase of eCommerce. Hence, just the way tech giants like Meta or eCommerce biggies like Amazon are focusing on making VR headsets and other similar technologies available, start making the most out of virtual and augmented reality technology.
Remember, making the online buying experience as realistic as possible is the ultimate way of connecting with the customers now and in the future. So, connect with us, a specialized development company, today! We provide not just eCommerce website development services but also professional consultation and support that your eCommerce business might find helpful to drive conversion and customer engagement!!
Klizo Solutions was founded by Joseph Ricard, an American who has spent the past 10 years working in India, developing good teams and good processes. We have a team of over 40 people, and we develop high level technology in multiple frameworks.