Metaverse, a new eldorado for retail

The Metaverse is a collection of 3D virtual universes created by multiple entities and focused on social connections where real and virtual environments are fused. With virtual reality and augmented reality (VR / AR) tools,The metaverse aims to provide a new place where consumers and brands can work, learn, play, shop and create an “embodied Internet”.

The potential of the metaverse is that Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook’s parent company Meta to put this new universe at the center of everything the company produces, providing an ever-evolving virtual world to 3.6 billion people. applications, and at the same time transform the mobile commerce (mobile commerce) experience.

Of course, this shift has not escaped the brands of major retailers. According to statistics from the Fédération du e-commerce et de la vente à Distance (FEVAD), e-commerce has grown strongly in France during the COVID pandemic. In fact, online sales gained nearly 4 points, going from 9.8% in 2019 to 13.4% in 2020. For its part, online product sales registered a growth of 32%. In short, the possibilities to provide all types of users – new and existing – with exhilarating shopping experiences like never before in a new dimension of e-commerce seem endless.

But given the potential to transform the metaverse into the way brands interact with their customers, what are the opportunities – and of course the risks – for retailers looking to replicate their customers’ experiences virtually in physical stores? Trade sites?

A unique customer experience opportunity?

this work, More and more brands are looking to deepen their relationships with their customers by reproducing the in-store experience in the metaverse. Popular retailers such as Ralph Lauren, Zara and even the Walmart chain recently announced the launch of virtual stores where customers can “interact” with and try on clothes, before continuing to shop in person or online.

The fusion of the physical and digital worlds has led to a new definition of shopping : For example, Samsung unveiled its virtual store last September, “built” on the model of its store located in New York.

The virtual world provides brands with a space where they can test new productsOr patterns or colors in a familiar environment to gauge consumer interest before an item is manufactured. Connecting digital and virtual spaces, as well as improving the customer experience across all channels, has major benefits: more accurate orders placement, less overstocking, or more accurately responding to consumer expectations.

Digital Twin technology allows you to create a virtual copy of your home, store, offices or even clients, thus creating transparent links between the physical and virtual worlds. For example, consumers will be able to view and interact with products like IKEA furniture without leaving the sofa, but also to visit “dual” outlets and test products before actually getting them. Such a development will allow companies toSignificantly reduce return rates and improve customer experience In the broad sense by rationalizing the real world through virtual reality.

beyond digital twins, IMetaverse users will also have the ability to create avatars potentially different from its users, Both in terms of identity, style, behaviors and societal choices, as in the case of Roblox or Fortnite. This ability to use multiple identities in the metaverse allows merchants to interact with a growing audience Individual needs are varied. The emergence of new groups of consumers goes hand in hand with the invention of new ways to better target them. Brands will then have to transform physical consumers into digital consumers, as well as new digital consumers (avatars) into the physical world.

It makes sense for brands to embrace this innovative technology and discover the huge potential that this experimental pitch offers, which is the next step in their e-commerce roadmap, despite the expected high cost.

Threats are hanging on Metaverse

but, This new “digital frontier” remains largely uncharted territory. Some consumers want to test exciting and innovative technologies, but brands have a responsibility to minimize the risks they take as if they were in the physical world, or else they expose themselves to the risk of attacks and fraud.

The ability to create multiple identities in the metaverse allows scammers to create fake profiles or sell fake items on fake ones. Bots can be used to impersonate legitimate usersthus generating unnecessary digital traffic that can slow down the operation of these virtual spaces, like the activity of real-world vendors.

Bots can also intentionally lower the price of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) by placing fake auctions Bids already accepted will be canceled. These items are then re-listed at a lower price and then collected by fraudulent sellers. These scammers can also intentionally raise the price of an NFT by exchanging the tokens with a “duplicate” smart contract that circumvents normal selling rules, then reselling the items at a higher price on a secondary market.

This technique is used to give the impression that the value of items is higher, but it also creates artificial market trends, confirming the scale of the phenomenon that e-commerce is already experiencing in the metaverse. Exploiting these vulnerabilities could damage the brand’s reputation and discourage users from visiting these Sites. At a time when uncertainty prevails, merchants must ensure that they maintain a high level of trust with their customers by encouraging them to explore new environments without fear and in complete safety.

While it remains unclear how fraudulent activity will develop and how it will be monitored in the metaverse, traders are advised to be proactive and anticipate different possibilities. For brands to continue to innovate for customer relationship and experience, retailers need to understand and recognize users by associating real-world personalities with digital personalities through the use of automated user-driven technologies. This approach will enable merchants to respond quickly and proactively to new and emerging threats. However, in the current situation, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the absence of regulations.

What are the payment regulations?

Blockchain technology combines the security and scalability needed to operate a secure global network of OTC payments. However, this situation is not without challenges for regulators. The system of interconnected nodes that process transactions around the world necessarily raises questions about how to organize a virtual environment like the metaverse. Do companies have to comply with the laws and regulations of multiple jurisdictions? Who will rule this virtual reality?

Authentication is another point of contention How will users be able to identify legitimate retailers and products? This is where NFTs can provide an answer. A patent filed by Nike in 2019 links shoes and clothing to the Ethereum blockchain, providing proof of the authenticity of physical goods. In fact, in addition to proving authenticity, this method can allow brands to associate physical and digital goods.

According to a study by Finder, 8% of French people owned cryptocurrency in March 2022. Cryptocurrency is already the preferred payment method for the metaverse, which highlights the real problems that companies have to respond to. Although it is an emerging currency and still far from widespread adoption, retailers who choose to use cryptocurrencies exclusively as a form of payment risk alienating mass consumers, with some unable – or unwilling – to adopt these virtual currencies.

If existing payment service providers decide to operate in the metaverse and offer consumers the option to pay for their purchases in real currencies, how quickly can the entire payments ecosystem be able to adapt and authenticate transactions? For example, Mastercard has already announced its intention to expand its payment processing system into the metaverse.

Moreover, will this development relate to the traditional means of documenting payments? Will identity-based automated solutions be able to bridge the gap between real consumers and their digital twin? whatever, The general uncertainty surrounding regulations and payments in the metaverse highlights the need for caution and great adaptability.

The metaverse is the major disruptive technology the retail market has seen since the explosion of digital commerce and the onset of the pandemic. The fact that this environment is still largely unknown opens up a world of possibilities, but also of potential dangers.

While it is still too early to fully assess the impact of this revolution, the winners of the metaverse will not necessarily be the first to arrive, but perhaps those who know how to create a safe environment while offering a unique and personalized experience to their customers.

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