How would it be if you could visit a shop physically in the pedestrian zone, but also virtually in the digital space? Imagine if, when buying a sweater for yourself, you could also buy one for your digital avatar. Sounds like science fiction? In the metaverse it’s already reality. You can talk to other people, go to work, take a digital trip, build a house, buy virtual products, and do business. Although the metaverse is still being developed, it’s in the process of comprehensively changing how products are experienced and purchased – and could create entirely new perspectives for ecommerce and online retail.
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In the metaverse, the real world merges with a virtual one. But the metaverse is not a single, isolated virtual space. It’s a connected realm comprising various virtual worlds, which is experienced as a comprehensive virtual environment. Users have a virtual presence in the metaverse, known as an avatar. This represents the user in the virtual world. In the metaverse, people meet each other as if they were physically present. The main characteristic of the metaverse is that you can move around completely freely in this digital reality.
The metaverse could revolutionize how we interact socially, beyond the bounds of the real world. Multiple friends sit comfortably in their living rooms and meet virtually in a café for a chat – just like in real life. Or someone enters a virtual store as their metaverse avatar, looks at a 3D model of a sweater just as they would in a physical store, buys it using a digital currency, such as metaverse crypto, and then has the physical version delivered to their home in the real world.
From communication to events, in the metaverse there are countless kinds of activities and interactions.
Collaboration: People can communicate with each other in virtual rooms. They can make small talk with friends and acquaintances, or converse with colleagues in business meetings.
Cultural and leisure activities: The metaverse also enables you to participate in virtual events, such as concerts or museum visits, from home, offering an authentic experience. Or you could go to Metaverse Fashion Week, for example.
Education: Another important metaverse use case is in education, because users can easily gain new knowledge and skills in a virtual learning environment. Metaverse apps can provide training and specialized courses, simulations of work processes, product development in a virtual environment, or even metaverse games to aid learning.
Business activities: Thanks to virtual artifacts and digital currencies, it’s possible to find a company using metaverse technology and become active in this digital economy.
Ecommerce and online shopping: In the same way, users in the metaverse can make purchases, customizing their own avatar by choosing clothes, jewelry, make-up, and other accessories.
A virtual artifact (VA) is an object in a digital environment or virtual reality. Virtual artifacts are similar to objects in the real world, such as products, works of art, or prototypes of machines and equipment. These artifacts have an exchange or financial value. In other words, users can buy and own virtual artifacts in the metaverse. That’s why digital currencies play an important role on metaverse platforms. They are the payment method for transactions and business dealings in the metaverse.
To enter the metaverse, you need platforms, applications, and special software and hardware. The metaverse is device-agnostic. So users can enter it as long as they have a laptop, PC, tablet, or smartphone, plus a web browser. The crucial technology that the metaverse is based on is extended reality (XR) – an enhanced reality that includes both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) and makes interactions possible.
Sensors record information, including biometric and personal data, plus users’ movements, and transfer it all into the metaverse. That’s why you also need to take data protection into account here. As the sensors need to process huge amounts of data as efficiently as possible, they use artificial intelligence (AI).
Overview of technological prerequisites:
Highly available network with a high bandwidth: The metaverse is built on a powerful network that must ensure reliable availability, high bandwidth, and minimal latency. Only then can users move about realistically in the metaverse in real time.
IT infrastructure with high processing power and memory capacity: The metaverse architecture needs an IT infrastructure with impressive processing power and sufficient memory to manage complex requirements.
Software, hardware, and access devices: The software component of the metaverse comprises interfaces, APIs, protocols, and standards for the seamless exchange of data required to create a coherent digital environment. Physical interaction with the metaverse is achieved using hardware such as VR glasses and wearables that give users an immersive experience.
The frontend of the metaverse presents a multi-faceted digital world of experiences without borders, in which users move around in the form of their digital identities and which includes digital goods, products, and currencies. So the metaverse is an online world in which people can communicate, live, work, travel, and shop virtually – and in real time.
Ecommerce in particular could also benefit from participating in the metaverse. It offers numerous ways to provide customers with innovative and immersive shopping experiences:
Physical stores can be depicted digitally: In the metaverse, you can generate virtual copies of bricks-and-mortar stores, like a kind of VR supermarket. This means that retailers can also be present for their customers in a virtual environment, offering them a realistic shopping atmosphere in the digital realm, too.
Product visualizations offer new opportunities for product presentation: Companies can find innovative ways to present products in the virtual world. They can use the metaverse to provide a creative, interactive product experience.
Virtual and physical sales opportunities: This only works in the metaverse – products can be bought and sold both virtually and physically. For example, users could buy clothing for themselves in the real world, and also as a digital version for their avatar. This creates a seamless integration between the digital purchasing experience and the physical one. Virtual and real marketing and advertising campaigns could also be run in the metaverse.
Avatar-based company visits: People have the opportunity to visit and get to know companies in the metaverse in their avatar form. This creates a stronger bond between customers and companies or brands.
Do our laws also apply in the metaverse and what about the protection of personal data? How disruptive could the metaverse become? Will we all have a digital twin eventually? For many companies, the metaverse is still difficult to implement. And it remains to be seen whether it will become part of our daily lives at some point. But the digital universe is definitely exciting! Because behind this upcoming development are technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality, with benefits that offer a fascinating glimpse into the future of shopping.