Retailers need a blockchain-based approach to successfully engage in metaverse commerce.
According to new analysis from Info-Tech Research Group, immersive virtual and augmented reality customer experiences in what has come to be known as the metaverse can drive value in the current consumer marketplace. In the metaverse, consumers use augmented and virtual reality technology to digitally engage with each other and their surroundings, with crossovers into the physical world.
[Read more: Editor’s commentary: What could the ‘Metaverse’ mean for retail?]
However, Info-Tech analysis finds that most retailers are unsure where to start and need to deploy blockchain technology as a supporting platform. Blocchain serves as a real-time, single ledger verifying all transactions conducted on the blockchain network.
By harnessing blockchain, Info-Tech says retailers can leverage the metaverse to advance the omnichannel shopping experience in the following four key ways:
Smart contracts: Smart contracts use blockchain to enforce the obligations of all parties in a contract without the participation of a middleman. They are computer programs that facilitate, verify, and enforce the negotiation or execution of an agreement.
Enhanced data portability: Know Your Client (KYC) statements that verify customer identity and help protect against fraud can be stored on the blockchain to decrease administration problems and costs, while outlining concerns that still need to be addressed. This also reduces the risk of storing customer information.
Deliver seamless direct money transfers and payments: Blockchain technology can eliminate the need for fee-intensive, fragmented, cross-border non-cash transactions by excluding third parties and enabling direct money transfers and efficient interbank settlements.
Decentralized ledgers for trade settlements: Trade settlement processes usually require two to three days for payments and securities to change hands. Moving this process to a decentralized ledger can streamline the process.
"The metaverse will fundamentally disrupt the retail ecosystem and take personalization from evolution to a complete revolution," said Rahul Jaiswal, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group. "Although metaverse commerce is still in its infancy, many retail brands are testing applications like avatar-driven customer services, augmented reality, and 3D interaction to entice shoppers through virtual stores, products, and events."
Survey: Consumers don’t know about the metaverse
Retailers may also need to educate their customers on the metaverse, as most respondents said they were unfamiliar with the metaverse in a new Publicis Sapient report based on findings from a survey conducted by YouGov. Only 40% of U.S. respondents said they are somewhat or very familiar with the metaverse.
When asked specifically about shopping in the metaverse, over half of respondents who selected “I wouldn’t buy anything in the metaverse” had never heard of the metaverse (53%). However, 31% of surveyed U.S. consumers would like to use the metaverse to see how products look in 3D before making purchases, and 28% of U.S. respondents would like to virtually try on clothing and see different fashion looks in the metaverse before making a purchase.
For more information, download the Info-Tech Research Group Shopping in the Metaverse blueprint.