Can my business benefit from the everywhere all-at-once potential of the metaverse?
Doctor Digital Says
Most people who aren't internet entrepreneurs, futurists or mega geeks may have little or no experience or knowledge about the metaverse. Perhaps your only connection is when Facebook changed its brand to Meta (which might give you an idea on how big Mark Zuckerberg thinks the metaverse wil get. Some went as far as saying metaverse will be the next Internet.
So what it is? And more importantly, what does the metaverse entail for smaller businesses? In its literal sense, the metaverse is a digital alternative to the real, physical world. It is a realm where digital and physical worlds combine and offer people new, immersive, 3D experiences. It's fair to say in practical terms the metaverse is still in its infancy, and like the adoption of so much technology, its evolution will be driven by a non-linear journey based usually on what drives revenue, or convenience, or entertainment or all of the above.
Retail and eCommerce are among the industries that stand to gain the most from the metaverse, even while it is still in its early stages. The metaverse is expected to blur the lines between digital and physical and merge online and offline shopping experiences, creating a more immersive eCommerce ecosystem. The metaverse gives people a 3D immersive experience of not only human interactions but also of products and services.
In the metaverse, the possibilities of demonstrating products, showing how tools or machines work, how apparel would fit you and how you will look in them, and how you would experience museums and tourist sites are endless. There will be opportunities for businesses to set up kiosks in malls, transport hubs, and other high-traffic spaces
If the Big Techs manage to deliver on their vision, customers would be able to put on their AR/VR headsets and go into virtual malls, browse through virtual stores, speak with digital salespeople and enjoy an outdoor shopping experience, all while staying in the comfort of their home.
Your business may have already begun to utilise these technologies with some virtual or try-on retail experiences, but most still feel a little clunky and removed. The metaverse will bring this into a much more immersive and realised experience, which of course will have seamless pay gateways and integrated logistics.
In a targeted way for small business, the metaverse has the potential to take current digital marketing approaches to the next level, especially in the community realm, offering new opportunities for brands to engage and communicate with their audience.
With the metaverse approach, community building could look like your businesses organising live, immersive and significantly more engaging events such as virtual tours and 3D webinars. This could be a kind of local gathering where the audience has the opportunity to meet and engage in a highly interactive way without geographical constraints.
eCommerce has been a leading driver of digital technology, so it is unsurprising that it is one of the peak directions for the metaverse in terms of small business. As we have seen over the last two decades where the internet has evolved to be our personal partner for everything, people still need people, and frequently want a brick-and-mortar experience alongside a virtual brand experience. The metaverse means that brick-and-mortar store visits can happen, but again, free of geographical constraints.
This means you can offer an in-person store experience to your customers, reducing the cost of the bricks and mortar rental or investment, without reducing the experience. Because it is digital, and metaverse, imagine the opportunities for personalisation of the experience, really combining the human need for connection with the convenience of what the metaverse offers.
There is of course also the amazing opportunity for inclusion for all people, where you can personalise your virtual stores according to each individual's moral, social and cultural beliefs leaving no one feeling outside of your brand offering and in fact perhaps giving them the feeling of not being marginalised for the first time, what a brand connection that could be.
It is early days, but the metaverse is coming. Like all things the learning curve will be steep, rapid and agile, and when it is widely adopted, it will offer some pretty rad opportunities for businesses of all scales. From allowing newer levels of personalisation to introducing a new business model, virtual immersion, cost reduction, inclusion and straight-up convenience your small business may have much to gain from this futuristic ecosystem.
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