Thought Piece | Thought Piece
Why it’s time to future-proof your business with MACH technology
by Liam Springate-Jones
With the rise of the metaverse, there’s huge potential for retail businesses to create more immersive and engaging shopping experiences. For brands that want to connect with their customers in exciting ways, the metaverse has paved the way for a range of opportunities. Many retailer brands, like Zara and Nike and luxury brands such as Balenciaga, have already launched virtual products, collectables, and even non-refundable tokens.
The metaverse has the potential to push retail into a new era of shopping, one driven by technology and immersive experiences. Better yet, according to research, 78% of brands cite that they’re most interested in retail shopping being part of the metaverse. Below, we discuss how the metaverse is shaping retail experiences.
One of the greatest benefits of the metaverse is how it enables brands to create a sense of community around their products and services. As a convergence of physical and digital interactions, the metaverse offers retailers the chance to create a store environment that forges a deeper connection between the brand and the customer. By leveraging the metaverse, retail brands can expand their presence into 3D virtual spaces that maintain the brand’s identity, while utilising the advances of an online environment, such as the freedom from the constraints of the physical world.
According to research, 66% of branded community members have said that communities have made an impact on brand loyalty. With the retail industry having now evolved considerably,that sense of a strong community is key to success and the rise of virtual reality will no doubt expand this further. With the metaverse, retail leaders can begin to build unique experiences and continue to expand their digital presence, while fostering an engaged community that 2D webpages and applications cannot provide. The metaverse empowers people to connect and socialise in a new way, so it will give retail brands another outlet for developing their audience.
The metaverse can be used as a tool for retailer brands who are looking to reach a broad customer base and move beyond social media applications to cultivate a loyal following and community. With rich and diverse retail experiences, customers can feel more connected to the brand on an emotional level, with customers becoming part of the brand’s image. The clothing brand Vollebak created a virtual store on Decentraland and that consumers can visit and connect with, which serves as a progressive step forward in the world of retail.
Beyond the need for a sense of community, omnichannel retail is another concept that has transformed retail in recent years. It’s the idea of seamless integration between channels, encompassing every touch point from website to web app, wearables – and now the metaverse. Retailers must rely on a multi-channel strategy to entice customers and the metaverse is likely to shape the future of omnichannel retail and serve as the next touch point for modern businesses. There’s a variety of brands leading the way when it comes to omnichannel metaverse marketing:
Ralph Lauren, for example, is already making use of the metaverse as a new business model. The brand launched a partnership with Zapato – a global social networking app and is now selling digital clothing to people’s avatars on the platform.
Gucci also introduced a limited time collection of virtual products to Roblox, which people could purchase and use for their in-world avatars.
Forever 21 is one of the first consumer brands to start selling products in Roblox. The brand also released its F21 Metaverse collection, which is Forever 21’s first-ever metaverse-inspired fashion collection.
Ultimately, the metaverse offers a new form of marketing to retail brands, providing cross-channel experiences and campaigns. It’s changing retail by creating additional avenues to drive revenue and awareness.
The buying process has transformed radically over the years, which has been due to several different factors, including the rise of data-driven technologies, e-commerce, and hyper-personalisation. These innovations have allowed retailers to operate more efficiently, streamline operations and improve performance.
Furthermore, the metaverse has the potential to transform engagement levels and increase brand loyalty. Retail customer engagement is defined by how a brand interacts with its customers, whether in-person or online. It’s about the experience that the brand creates for the customer to ensure they return to the store.
In the metaverse, brands will have the opportunity to map the customer journey, utilise insights about when purchases are made, and then use the data to provide a seamless customer experience. The metaverse will be a positive environment to foster new experiences for customers to keep them engaged in the brand. According to research, 25% of people will spend an hour per day in the metaverse by 2026. This shows the sheer potential of the metaverse and how it will be of great value to retailer brands.
At Splendid UNLIMITED, our Experience Design team are metaverse experts and understand how brands can best leverage what virtual reality has to offer. With the metaverse, retailers can continue to nurture and build excellent relationships to boost sales.
We have experience working with retail brands, such as Boots. Together with IBM, Aurora and Coremedia, we launched a quality e-commerce experience to improve the shopping and servicing experience for their customers. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your brand with the metaverse, register your interest for a free workshop.