By Devin Partida, ReHack.com
With the current metaverse hamstrung by lackluster graphics, data-mining fears, and restless people anxious to have real experiences after years of social isolation, online retailers have their work cut out for them. Though the tech world is hyped about the metaverse, most people don’t even know what it is, much less use it for shopping. How can businesses overcome these hurdles?
Opinions On The Metaverse
A 2021 survey found that only 22% of respondents in the U.K. and 15% in the U.S. think brands should advertise in the metaverse. The same survey also found that most people either don’t know the metaverse or don’t need it. But the metaverse is still in its infancy.
Currently, the metaverse requires the use of bulky headsets. In the future, it might use AI-based cameras to track eye movement or posture to seamlessly integrate people into the digital world. As graphics improve, so will user engagement.
As with all new technologies, it’s hard to say how the metaverse will evolve. One survey revealed that 8% of U.S. adults with no interest in the metaverse and 23% with some interest reported believing it will positively impact their quality of life. Some adults – around one-third of those polled in the U.S. – predict it’s the future of technology.
Online retailers can take advantage of the current excitement surrounding the metaverse. Brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas are already doing so. But what challenges do advertisers face? Here are some of the hurdles they have to overcome:
- Lack of engagement: With few current participants, metaverse advertisers don’t reach a very large audience. That may change in the coming years as more people get interested in this technology.
- Ethical issues: Can companies target ads based on the appearance of people’s digital avatars? With so many underage children pretending to be adults in the metaverse, how will companies know what age group they’re actually reaching?
- Nebulous boundaries: Which companies can advertise in which digital spaces? Will businesses have to compete for prime virtual real estate?
- Privacy concerns: How will marketers protect user data?
All of these issues can probably be resolved as the metaverse matures. Developers will have to create new rules as unique situations arise.
How To Improve Metaverse Shopping
Assuming the metaverse is the next big thing in tech, here are some ways retailers can improve the online shopping experience:
- Integrate Marketing Into Games
People don’t want pop-up ads to ruin their sense of immersion in the digital world. Because most people enter the metaverse to socialize or play games, retailers can seamlessly integrate marketing into the user experience by placing digital billboards on the landscape or creating games that function as advertisements.
Users can immerse themselves in quests that include strategic product placement or targeted marketing. Companies also can offer digital purchases in games. By incorporating elements of storytelling and gamification in their ads, marketers can keep their audiences engaged.
- Focus on Connections
Businesses can make it easy for users to shop with their friends, just as they would in real life. They can offer people rewards for referring others to their brand. Marketers also can create community events that allow people to engage with their brand as a group activity.
- Offer Real and Virtual Products
Companies can give users the ability to have real items shipped to their door. But they also can let people purchase new character skins or outfits to customize their avatars.
One-way marketers can integrate the metaverse with real products is to let people try out different items online. For example, companies can use VR demonstrations to let people try different hairstyles, then sell them real products to help them achieve that look.
- Enable Customization
People love custom products. Marketers should let metaverse users design their own unique virtual products that express their creativity and sense of style. For example, advertisers can create games where people design, try on, and purchase custom digital clothes for their characters.
Or companies can let people create custom products in the metaverse that translate into real, tangible items.
Marketing In The Metaverse
Though no one can be sure what role the metaverse will play in the future, it may become more popular as graphics and AI capabilities improve. Although it hasn’t fully developed, the metaverse is an exciting new frontier for marketers.
About The Author
Devin Partida is a writer and blogger interested in retail technologies and business solutions. To read more from Devin, visit ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.