There’s no denying that the Metaverse is a maze.
Metaverse is a term that many businesses are tossing around, either to describe what they are doing or to see if it fits into their business model.
However, one thing is for sure: The metaverse is already reshaping Ecommerce, and it’s only going to get better.
What is the Metaverse?
Originally used in the 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” the term “metaverse” has recently gained mainstream traction following Facebook’s announcement that it would be changing its name to “Meta.”
When the internet as a whole was trying to figure out what “metaverse” meant in October of 2021, there were over 2.62 million Google searches.
On the other hand, Facebook did not come up with it on its own. Crypto and NFT users on social media were already using it to describe an interactive internet.
VR, AR, and NFTs are all used in this idealized version to create environments ranging from a single room to entire algorithmically generated universes. NFTs and cryptocurrency can also be used to buy and sell digital assets, which may even represent real-world items.
But, most of all, it represents personal ownership.
You own an asset in web3, and no one can take it away from you unless you give them permission. This is a fundamental tenet of web3. Since the term “metaverse” doesn’t refer to a single technology developed by one company, the problem is that it’s so complicated.
All these technologies, and more to come, can be combined to create something greater than the sum of their parts, and anyone can do so.
Nonetheless, we can already see that a number of large, well-established companies have already taken steps toward joining the metaverse.
But, while the metaverse is still developing, we can see that several major established companies have already taken strides toward becoming part of it.
NFTs & brand identity
NFTs, one of the biggest emerging technologies of 2021 form a key part of this change.
These digital assets which have existed in practice, if not in name, since 2014 are unique digital items stored on a blockchain.
In 2021, the rise of the “PFP” model of NFTs attached to unique graphics that users can change their profile pictures to on social media emerged as a key use case.
These became an easy way for individuals and companies to openly signal they were part of the web3 movement and were prepared to back this up by purchasing, often very expensive, items.
Adidas was an early mover by purchasing a “Bored Ape Yacht Club” NFT called “Indigo Hertz”, branding him with an Adidas tracksuit, and changing their profile pictures on social media to display him.
While it appears they purchased the NFT for 46 ETH (around $156,000 at the time) the cheapest Bored Ape is currently 110 ETH (around $352,000 at the time of writing), so for that reason alone, he’s been a good investment!
More than that, however, “Indigo” has allowed Adidas to be an early mover in the space and create a clear signal that the metaverse is key to their ongoing business strategy.
While Bored Apes are the best known NFT project, celebrities, influencers and companies are purchasing them from a range of projects to show they are part of the community.
But, the metaverse is more than just NFT profile pictures. Adidas, like many businesses, also purchased digital land in The Sandbox and launched their own NFT series where holders will have access to buy limited-edition merchandise.
Other projects, such as Heads, create digital items that can be owned and worn in the metaverse. This allows users to customize their characters to buy items but also allows them to resell them later on to other users, potentially at a profit.
Digital assets are fun, but physical items are still key in the Metaverse
This linking of digital assets to their real-world counterparts, or even limiting the purchase of the physical items to holders of specific digital items, is becoming more common and a key feature of the way eCommerce is changing.
Playboy has recently made several moves into the NFT and metaverse spaces, most prominently with their “Playboy Rabbitar” NFT series.
Soon to be mainstream?
At this point, it all sounds like normal online shopping but with extra steps, so why does it matter to you and your business?
Currently, we are at the early stages and the ability to shop in the metaverse is still a developing tool.
Buying items with cryptocurrency in VR using your avatar currently isn’t as easy as going to a normal website and buying something with your credit card, but it is a developing ecosystem.
For example, the ability to be online, using a virtual avatar, and then buying new clothing for that avatar which will change your appearance in-game
As the entire metaverse industry of VR and AR continues to grow and become more mainstream, the expectations of users who spend time there will increase.
As we spend more time in the metaverse and it becomes integrated into our day-to-day lives, just as the internet has, eCommerce functions will become commonplace within it.
Think about your products, and how they will appeal to a new generation of digital metaverse native shoppers. Could you sell digital products linked to your physical products or even purely digital products?
That way, eCommerce businesses can start to plan for metaverse mainstream adoption, use cryptocurrencies so they have the resources if they decide to move into the metaverse, and look at how to engage with new audiences looking to use their products.