The internet is changing swiftly and profoundly. With the rise of Web 3.0 and the metaverse, we can expect plenty more progress over the coming months and years. This will be particularly notable in the way we interact with brands and make purchases online.
But what exactly is the metaverse, and what will be its impact on ecommerce?
Put simply, the metaverse is a quickly developing, enhanced version of the internet we know. It’s akin to a virtual world, where various networks and forms of tech merge to create an accessible, immersive and user-focused experience.
It will be easier for users to move seamlessly between education, work, leisure and commerce via the metaverse. As digital marketing and online shopping once skyrocketed in popularity, it’s no jump to expect similar trends from the brands in the metaverse.
Social Media and Social Proof
This aspect of ecommerce has already been around for a number of years. The use of social media influencers and other types of social proof are now a key part of numerous companies’ digital marketing campaigns.
The term “social proof” refers to the instinctive response shared by most human beings, whereby we tend to adopt the behaviors of others. This is because we see someone else taking a particular action as “proof” that it is the right thing to do.
Social user-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing are prime evidence brands harnessing social proof techniques for ecommerce purposes, especially on social media. When shoppers see people like them or creators they look up to naturally endorsing a brand or product, they’re more confident to make the same purchase. In fact, UGC is 50% more trusted than traditional branded content.
Kimpton uses diverse types of community content in its social posts, like this post focused on promoting family trips at the brand’s destinations.
Social proof also plays a major role in the ratings & reviews landscape for ecommerce brands. Brands that create innovative and easy ways for customers to share feedback stand out, and will continue to in the metaverse.
As we don’t know exactly what selling in the metaverse may look like, it’s a good idea to have a robust strategy connecting your brand’s social media presence with its ecommerce practices. Pixlee TurnTo’s holistic solution to social proof incorporates UGC, influencer, and ratings & reviews management in one platform. And, brands can make community content shoppable on their websites with Pixlee.
HYLETE takes the ultimate approach to social selling — making influencer and fan content shoppable on social media and on the brand’s website.
This type of social selling is what we expect to see flourish as the metaverse takes hold, especially as consumers are already shopping and purchasing products from social media posts today.
Cryptocurrency and NFTs
Crypto has been around since the birth of Bitcoin way back in 2009 — but since then, it has become a seemingly immovable element of the internet’s transition into Web 3.0 and the metaverse.
Cryptocurrency values are not directly connected to any particular country’s economy and exist independently in decentralized cyberspace, but they are still highly volatile. For this reason, many internet users invest in crypto much like the stock market.
One benefit of using cryptocurrency is that it is often considered more secure than other forms of payment. This is because it utilizes “blockchain” technology. A blockchain is a virtual string of “ledgers” in which every transaction is indelibly recorded and cannot be altered. This prevents falsification and fraud.
Cryptocurrency doesn’t seem likely to leave us any time soon. In fact, it’s likely that large businesses and institutions will invest in this resource in greater numbers as time goes by. So it’s worth it to keep in mind how this will impact ecommerce.
Another blockchain-related component of Web 3.0 is the NFT, or “non-fungible token”. This type of virtual token represents ownership of a particular item – whether it’s a piece of art or even digital items.
The blockchain is used to prove the validity of each NFT and to record changes of ownership as and when they happen. This method can also be used to represent elements of real estate – whether it’s a whole property or “tokenized” portions of one.
Brands today are slowly starting to lean into the NFT craze, with brands like Stella Artois creating and selling NFTs for charitable purposes and for ecommerce benefits. Nike also purchased virtual shoe brand RTFKT, “a leading brand that leverages cutting edge innovation to deliver next generation collectibles that merge culture and gaming.”
VR and AR
Augmented reality, or “AR”, has been gaining traction in the world of ecommerce for years.
Brands selling apparel, cosmetics, and related products help potential customers to “try on” their products before buying them, using technology that sees that product superimposed onto the consumer’s face or head using their device’s camera app.
This is the function of AR, to use visualization tools to present an accurate image of an item in its relevant location, so the user can get a clearer idea of its impact.
Plenty of things can be visualized with AR, from furnishings to game characters (think Pokemon Go). As AR and VR continue to grow, we expect brands that combine these technologies with social proof marketing to succeed in the metaverse. Maui Jim features a variety of shoppable UGC galleries on the brand’s site, and created a virtual try-on tool for sunglasses. Combining these elements gives the shopper the most information they can get about a product without actually feeling it in their hands.
VR, or “Virtual Reality” goes one step further. Users usually engage with this technology via a headset, in order to immerse themselves in the world of the product. In many cases, they can “move” around a virtual space and interact with items.
VR tours are becoming ever more popular in real estate, as a way for potential property buyers to explore a building and better understand its size and layout without having to make the trip to attend a real viewing.
It seems highly likely that VR and AR will influence further change in the ecommerce side of the metaverse by reducing the need for people to view or try items “in person”, gradually doing away with the need for “shop fronts” or any kind of physical store.
All in all, we are likely to see many more aspects of our retail experience taking place via the metaverse as time goes on. Beyond that, our recreation time, work and shopping will flow and merge more organically into one another as Web 3.0 develops further.
With almost endless possibilities available in the virtual world, proper regulation and a strong legal infrastructure will need to evolve alongside them to ensure total safety and security as we venture into the unknown.
James Durr, has been a property buyer and developer for almost 2 decades. As one of the co-founders of leading UK homebuying firm, he has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge in speaking effectively and empathetically with property owners and business owners to find genuine win-win solutions.