A woman with a VR headset shopping in the metaverse
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How Retail Businesses Should Prepare for the Metaverse

5 minute read
Leah Zitter avatar
Will the metaverse become the future of ecommerce experiences? CX leaders share their thoughts on how the metaverse will alter customer experience.

Retail businesses that stake their flags in the virtual marketplace face a major customer experience problem. According to recent Gartner research, 93% of consumers have either never heard of the metaverse or don’t understand it.

As Reddit users discussing the phenomena shared: Why would I need an immersive virtual experience? How is it different from normal online shopping? What’s it all about? It’s a non-problem.

“Basically the only thing going for it,” concluded one Redditor, “is that it looks cool. Using VR to emulate what already exists exactly is like designing a plane to move its wings like a bird instead of using engines, or having a car with legs; it's silly!”

The essential what, how and why of CX is that people have to know what a brand is offering and the value in it. If Reddit technophiles find shopping on the metaverse a hazy concept, how can brands expect “regular” customers to interact and engage with it? Why should they care?

On top of that, The Drum’s Webb Wright reported that many people in“the true-blue web3 community” associate these immersive shopping experiences with Meta.

“No one in web3 thinks Facebook is cool,” Amanda Cassatt, co-founder and CEO of Serotonin, a marketing company and product firm, told The Drum. “In fact, all of web3 finds [Facebook/Meta] anathema.

“Part of the reason we created web3 was to fight back against that business model. When you see brands like Pepsi [and] Heineken interacting with Meta on Twitter, as if that’s like a web3 [or] a metaverse thing ... it could not alienate [web3] people more.”

Despite the metaverse challenges, could immersive virtual worlds be the way forward for brands?

Related Article: Why Facebook's Metaverse Is Still Only A Pipedream

UX Leaders on Virtual Customer Service

Daniel Rodriguez, CMO of Simplr, an AI-backed CX platform, told AR Post that it’s all about being able to offer “the best and most personalized CX in the metaverse which stands to nab the attention and loyalty of customers shopping in the metaverse.”  

Essentially, for metaverse marketing, brands should use the same three key components they use to make their CX channels work. They are: empathy, personalization and efficiency.

“Brands,” Rodriguez added, “should focus on creating a quality, foundational CX that’s first and foremost built to be as agile as the conditions of the metaverse change.”

Brands like Balenciaga, Gucci and Star Wars, according to Customer Experience Magazine, use the metaverse for successful marketing. It concluded that the “best advice for brands looking into the metaverse is to invest in the technology and create dedicated roles for designing metaverse experiences for customers” Brands only need “the right digital solution and expertise to make it happen.”

Shawn Stefaniak, former CEO ecommerce specialist at iDevices, a smart home product company, told CMSWire: “Brands that use the metaverse should customize their products and tailor them to the specific needs of their customers.

“Additionally, brands that use the metaverse should create interactive marketing campaigns that allow customers to experience the product or service before making a purchase.”

UX Insights From Research Scientists

Scientists writing for The Journal of Distribution Science concluded that rather than differentiate themselves, brands that want to succeed in the metaverse should adopt business models that are as indistinctive as possible to physical competitors.

“Normal” business experiences could allay the anxiety newbies may feel when entering this bewildering new landscape for the first time.

Learning Opportunities

Brands should also integrate four key elements of user experience, namely: identity, attractiveness, usability and interaction.

The identity of your metaverse ecosystem should closely imitate its physical corollary to familiarize users with its novelty.  Build a good user experience by making it customer-focused, consistent, simple, agile and replete with value.

Finally — and this concerns making your metaverse experience attractive and interactive — infuse it with physical, digital or emotional incentives.

Related Article: Will the Metaverse Revolutionize Marketing and Customer Experience?

The Solution to the Facebook Connection

Facebook’s association with the metaverse alienates certain consumers, as does the metaverse’s negative reputation for displacing real life with escapism.

The solution?

In Virtual Reality, researchers Han, Bergs and Moorhouse suggested that “engineers need to design VR consumer experiences that are not only perceived to be valuable but also add to the well-being of consumers.”

For example, brands could use the metaverse to help bed-bound users “travel” to exotic destinations. Virtual worlds could also be designed with meaningful context and content that “encourages positive relationships and stress relief on a tactical level.”

In Short

The metaverse could be an attractive option for today’s digital generations, with the physical shopping experience giving way to a new 3D virtual experience.

As Jason Norris, Inventory Management Systems at Walmart, said, “The story we were trying to tell was what could shopping in Walmart be like in the not too distant future… We wanted to do something fun and engaging...and just producing a video wasn't going to do it.”

Brands jumping on the metaverse could win their bets — provided they create virtual experiences that emphasize exceptional customer experiences.