The retail business is constantly evolving. Retailers are experimenting with several sales channels simultaneously to boost their revenues. They are working toward implementing a multichannel sales approach that will offer customers a seamless shopping experience whether they purchase through their computers, mobiles, or by visiting stores.
To offer a smooth omnichannel experience to customers, there is a new channel that cannot be ignored – the metaverse. Without good customer service, businesses cannot survive. Therefore, customer care in the metaverse must be given utmost priority as it is a new concept and customers may face many issues.
What Is the Metaverse?
Considered a future iteration of the internet, the metaverse is a virtual universe where millions of people live, shop, work, and communicate. It is a collaboration between the digital and physical worlds via various technologies and software.
Metaverse is a digital and 3D world concept that brings together multiple online spaces. Even though it is not fully in existence yet, some platforms have features that are just like the metaverse. Video games, for example, offer an online gaming experience quite similar to it.
The New Way of Retail
The introduction of the metaverse does not mean the end of physical retail altogether. The concept of smooth integration between multiple sales channels (omnichannel commerce) includes numerous customer touchpoints such as websites, smartphones, social media, physical stores, and recently, the metaverse also.
The next step in the metaverse evolution is the simulation of brick-and-mortar stores. Top brands like Gucci and Nike are already experimenting with gaming platforms to develop virtual storefronts for their customers which will allow them to walk through the aisles as they would normally do in real stores, add products to their carts and then get them delivered or pick up in-store. Even fast food chains such as McDonald’s are planning to establish virtual restaurants where customers will be able to order their food in the metaverse and have it delivered to their doorstep.
Is the Metaverse Adding to Omnichannel Complexity?
Let us face it; no one is an expert in the metaverse yet. Brands that have hopped onto the bandwagon are learning from their experiences. For better understanding, let us consider a customer that excitedly designs a hoodie with wings at the Nike virtual store. When he receives the actual product, he may be disappointed if it does not have the same wings, as they may not be realistic. This will make the customer unhappy and dissatisfied with the purchase.
As discussed earlier, the metaverse is one of the new touchpoints for omnichannel businesses. Due to this, it is not very wise to believe that customers are going to behave in the metaverse in the same manner as they do in brick-and-mortar stores. Another possibility is that the consumers in the metaverse could be entirely different. Therefore, it is important to first identify the consumers, understand their needs, and track their purchase patterns to offer them the best customer experiences.
What Does the Metaverse Offer to Customers?
Imagine going shopping some 35 years ago. The only option at that time was to visit physical outlets to buy products. Now think about some years later, much after the introduction of the internet. The in-person shopping norm gradually shifted to two-dimensional e-commerce. Now, with the introduction of the metaverse, customers can indulge in a three-dimensional and immersive shopping experience using the internet.
The metaverse is not an extension of a brand’s website but a powerful platform in itself. After the recent pandemic, it is a new medium to provide a unique and innovative experience to customers virtually. As consumers these days spend more time on their devices than ever before, it has created an incredible opportunity for brands to engage their online audience in creative ways. When unable to visit the stores, they can step into the virtual world to buy things they need or even window-shopping.
The Last Word
Even though online platforms are convenient for shoppers, some do not enjoy them very much. At present, online 2D experiences do not provide enough satisfaction to customers that shopping in real stores does. Customers enjoy walking into a store, looking around, touching products, and comparing them before making an actual purchase. The ability of brands to merge in-store shopping with innovative and new virtual elements can make them much happier and more content.