Retailers In The Metaverse

This vision of Zuckerberg which involves interoperable experiences is going to create new opportunities for retailers to innovate and grow

As there are many retail trends to look out for in 2022, one cannot ignore the experience metaverse is planning to bring in the retail industry. The digital revolution in retail has already given many new terms like ‘retail reimagined’, ‘retail rethought’, and now, the metaverse is too planning to bring a whole new virtual world of experience. This vision of Zuckerberg which involves interoperable experiences is going to create new opportunities for retailers to innovate and grow. The consumer is now comfortable with digital shopping and embracing the change physical formats are introducing, thus enjoying the physical experience with digital convenience. There are many doubts which are emerging in retailers and customers' minds w.r.t this parallel universe. AR/VR /3D, are the advancements which retailers have already joined and customers are also inclined to these technologies. The question to ponder upon is ‘how metaverse is impacting retail’ or ‘is retail industry ready to meet customers in metaverse’?

New opportunities

Retailers have already started investing in augmented reality which is allowing the customers to visualize the product in actual space like IKEA. Designers and Programmers are developing experiential devices to connect retailers and customers into this fantastical world of shopping. This digital avatar will allow users to engage and shop in its unique experience with augmented and virtual reality, selling non-fungible tokens, integrated branding, and many more. Companies like Alibaba have already started with providing a unique virtual shopping experience to their customers, and brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton are also joining the race of products for digital avatars. Companies are focusing on meeting customers' needs in a better way by creating an Omnichannel experience by uniting the digital and physical world of consumers. Businesses are already booming in this metaverse world opening plentiful opportunities for all stakeholders.

The way for the next retail frontiers

Christina Wooton, VP, Brand Partnerships, Roblox said, “Brands can push the boundaries of creativity in the metaverse and offer experiences that are unrepeatable in real life”. Thus, one can’t avoid the fact that it’s important for brands to enhance their ecommerce storefront prominence and have to make way for virtual flagship stores. Online shopping experiences are also trying to match up the touch and feel the experience of physical stores by launching an

immersive VR store where customers can navigate the same like a physical shop. Neha Singh, CEO, virtual store, Developer, Obsess mentioned that, “Obsess aims to change a “more engaging, more visual and branded” approach to presenting products, as well as offering an “organic and natural way for customers to discover products and learn about them”. Consumers have accepted the future of shopping is hybrid and Grand Paterson, head of gaming and esports at Wunderman Thompson predicted that, “The bringing together of physical and virtual is going to accelerate significantly”.

D2A business model

It’s the time brands have to stay relevant for hyper-connected and highly opinionated customers. Ryan Gill, CEO of, Crucible mentioned that “Direct-to-Avatar (D2A) refers to an emerging business model selling products directly to avatars (D2A) - or digital identities - bypassing any supply chain management like dropshipping, logistics of how to get a physical product to a consumer's door”. Time to wait and see, how these immersive experience is going to be better than the real world. Where NFTs are providing uniqueness and true value to customers, SSI (Self-Sovereign Identity) is also emerging as a new concept that is helping to manage customers’ privacy concerns by providing a faster and user-centric decentralized approach. Looking forward to the readiness of the market in exploring its virtual identity to make customers welcome in an augmented reality lifestyle.

*The author is Veenu Sharma, Assistant Professor, Retail, BIRLA Institute of Management Technology

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