Retail, metaverse and metamall
Collaborations between metaverse and retail will create new excitement for the industry.
“Metaverse” has been one of the most popular terms amongst tech giants in recent years. So what exactly is metaverse? In simple terms, it is an advanced development of the internet. Metaverse provides a 3D virtual space allowing multiple internet users to connect and socialise in contents and environments created by different people around the world by adopting technologies like virtual reality. Users access the contents in metaverse as virtual persons, which largely enhances their experience and is, arguably, living a ‘second life’ outside reality. The applications of virtual reality technology have been wider than one can imagine. With the adoption of technology, industries like art, video games, real estate, architecture and others have been evolving from their traditional formats. It is only a matter of time for virtual reality to become more popular across more industries. While virtual reality may seem quite disconnected on its own, metaverse allows different virtual worlds to be connected just like reality, creating more opportunities for cross-industry collaborations.
The retail industry has been undergoing a structural change in its format across the world, not only due to COVID-19 but also due to the rapid development in technology. Many retailers have been consolidating their resources and transforming to online retail, to differentiate themselves from traditional retailing and grasp the online market share for their business development. While online retail offers great convenience to consumers, one of the limitations is that the shopping experience is never the same compared to shopping in a brick-and-mortar shop, at least not under the current online retail format.
With metaverse, which has led to Metamall, online retail shopping experiences for consumers will be enhanced to a whole new level. The idea of Metamall is a collaboration between metaverse and retail, allowing retailers to lease or purchase virtual spaces in the metaverse to operate their retail business, where consumers can shop online for digital and even physical products by setting foot in Metamall with their virtual identities. One of the biggest differences between the pre-existing online retail format and Metamall is that shoppers can easily engage with other people (friends, family, salespersons, or even strangers) in Metamall and get to try on the products in their virtual identities, ultimately gaining real-life shopping experience. Conversely, with the pre-existing online retail format, the shopping experience for consumers is more unilateral as they are mostly on their own. They cannot try on anything until the product is delivered to their doorsteps. In addition to the shopping experience, with the degree of freedom in the metaverse, retailers are more welcomed to experiment with new designs and products, which open up more marketing opportunities and room for creativity.
The rise of metaverse not only attracted luxury fashion brands like Balenciaga and mass sports brands like Nike to join, but also drew the interest of F&B chains such as McDonalds. Metamall can be said as one of the most advanced developments of online retail, but it is certainly not the end of its development. As technology further develops, we can only be more excited to see how the retail industry can embrace the latest technologies and evolve into a new format.