Is the metaverse the future of retail?

Lately, we are seeing many virtual stores and malls opening. After all the challenges that the retail industry faced during the pandemic, the metaverse is an entirely new world to dig into. So the question that arises is whether the metaverse is the future of retail? And how can businesses adapt to this new trend?

Online shopping has become a part of our everyday life, especially after the pandemic. And even though it is very convenient and many appreciate they can shop from the comfort of their home, it is not the same as the experience of entering a store and engaging with products that you are planning to buy. Will the metaverse trend help consumers get the best of both worlds? And how can retail businesses improve customer engagement? 

Retail digitalization 

Retailers are not immune to virtual tech achievements. More and more retailers are investing in AR and VR to enhance the online experience. The pandemic stopped many from going to physical stores and trying out items before purchasing, so the technology needed to accelerate. That is why many retailers launched the metaverse collections or included AR and VR in their virtual applications to let consumers try products before making the final decision.

Another popular trend that brands are embracing is the launch of brick-and-mortar stores that are designed as showrooms that are directly connected to online platforms. Physical stores are becoming critical touchpoints of customer conversion. 

But is this trend here to stay? It seems it is more popular in North America at the moment since Europeans still prefer brick-and-mortar stores. Senses are playing a huge role in the retail experience. Research shows that 75% of our emotional reactions are due to smell, which makes it one of the most important senses when it comes to the retail experience. Many supermarkets are using this tactic for many years now.  Besides the smell, touch and taste are other senses that are impossible at the moment to reproduce in the virtual world, and they are crucial for the retail experience. If the metaverse manages to find a way to offer an engaging and memorable experience online, the trend will stay. Instead of focusing on these senses, retail brands in the metaverse world will focus on creating emotional reactions using sight and sound. 

It's all about personalization for consumers

Not only that consumers expect more for less, but they also want to get a personalized shopping experience. Consumer perks, personalized promotions, privileges, and product lines that are just for them will be used in powerful marketing strategies in the metaverse. This will also allow retailers to develop a closer relationship with their target audience. The way to approach your consumers in the Metvarse will be much different than what retailers are used to. In virtual reality, they will expect a friendly approach where the seller is their lifestyle advisor rather than just a retailer. Experience is becoming more valuable than the product itself. This value shift will be one of the main challenges for retailers. 

Brands that already entered the metaverse 

Some of the famous brands already entered the Metvarese in its early stage - Gucci, Nike, Vans, Moncler, and Zara. If other retailers embrace the trend as well, the metaverse will become much more than just another marketing channel. Early indications are showing there will be strong demand for digital assets. This is why brands will launch two lines: pure digital and real-world digital. The first one will be available only for avatars, while the other one can be physically purchased. 

Payment systems

Of course, all of these tech developments will demand retailers to adapt ways of payment to Multiverse.  An expanded array of payment options is a must for retailers, from buy now pay later to letting customers pay in cryptocurrencies. The main focus is on making the customer decision-making process shorter and smoother.

The metaverse at this stage is still in its early beginnings, so retailers shouldn't run to come up with their virtual lines and stores. However, it is something you shouldn't lose out of sight either.

Plan your business expansion 

When deciding to export to Europe, most North American businesses see the obvious challenges: time zone, language barriers, and cultural differences. But is that everything? 

80% of North American consumers find shopping online more convenient than shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
72% of European consumers do most of their shopping in physical stores.

Only from this information, you might conclude that your market approach will run into some other challenges. To be successful, you will need boots on the ground in Europe. And that is where EuroDev can help you out! Our company was established in 1996 in the Netherlands with a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. So far, we have partnered up with over 500 companies and helped them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing, and Digital Marketing.

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