At the crossroads of multiple technologies, the metaverse promises to be a potential revolution for e-commerce companies. Learn more in this Capterra article.

It was on October 28, 2021 that the concept of metaverse, or metaverse in English, experienced a resurgence of interest in the news of new technologies. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announces the change of the group’s name to Meta , together with its intention to deploy nearly 10,000 employees in Europe entirely dedicated to this project. Although popularized by the video game industry, the metaverse is currently attracting growing interest from the business world for the potential it can offer in terms of online sales and marketing. . Nike is one of the companies that have already expressed their desire to invest in it: the brand has launched its own metaverse called Nikeland.

, in collaboration with the Roblox platform, where users can now purchase items for their virtual doubles. How can this concept, considered by Gartner as one of the most impactful future technologies to watch , play a significant role in the evolution of e-commerce? What is a potential innovation in customer experience? Discover the lines of thought on which Capterra looked.

What is the metaverse?

Resulting from the contraction of the words “meta”, meaning “beyond”, and “’vers” in reference to the term “universe”, the metaverse is defined as an immersive and connected digital where its users, evolving in the form of avatars, can engage in their usual activities. Alongside Facebook/Meta, declared as one of the potential leaders in the development of the metaverse , several companies have also expressed their desire to embark on the design of this type of digital universe. Although the metaverse appears to be a novelty, this concept has nevertheless been defined since 1992 and has undergone preliminary developments to the announcements made by the various players in the current digital industry.

A virtual world born of fiction

It is in the science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, or “Le Samouraï Virtuel” in French, that the notion of metaverse appears for the first time. The author evolves his main protagonist in a virtual world, in the form of a personalized avatar (a term also popularized by Stephenson’s novel ), accessing a metaverse through specific glasses and headphones. If this dystopian novel has been cited several times as a major influence in the advent of the metaverse, it is because its vision is considered a reference by personalities from Silicon Valley, like the founders of Google or even ‘Amazon (article in English). The book defines the

he main criteria associated with the development of the metaverse defined by Zuckerberg, namely:

  • User immersion through an avatar and specific technologies (connected network, augmented reality and virtual reality )
  • Access to a digital world that can be joined or left at any time
  • The permanence of certain elements (purchased objects, real estate, neighborhoods and streets to travel)

The video game sector is the spearhead of the beginnings of the metaverse

If the definition of the metaverse may have been born of fiction, very real elements of this digital universe may have emerged. The video game industry first appealed to codes relating to the concept that Facebook wishes to develop . The gaming platforms Fortnite, Minecraft, or even Roblox, thus share common points with the principle of the metaverse: a space where the community of players can socialize around activities that go beyond the game itself. We were thus able to see events such as virtual concerts of real artists see the light of day. Online shopping and selling activities are also present here, with the option to customize avatars with exclusive clothing from brands such as Balenciaga

, or sales of works of art through NFT .

If the world of video games offers similar potentialities to those that the metaverse can offer, fundamental differences remain however present with the concept. The number of users remains limited, and they cannot access different digital universes (for example from Fortnite to Roblox) without having to disconnect from each platform. In addition, the integration of activities that do not belong to entertainment, such as virtual work meetings, or even distance learning activities , are not included, activities that tour companies aim to develop. towards the design of the metaverse.

Social distancing has caused many companies to rethink their engagement strategy with their customers. Borrowed from the world of video games, one of the approaches to immersing the consumer and providing an experience free from physical constraints is that of gamification. By offering entertaining activities around the brand, like Disney having organized a virtual treasure hunt in their park , this principle can make it possible to maintain a privileged link with customers.

It can also be used internally to improve the motivation and performance of employees around tasks deemed not to be fun. Earning points by completing informative quizzes on classic company security standards is one of the various examples of the application of gamification. 

Metaverse opportunities for e-commerce

In a context favorable to the development of online sales, with an end-of-year turnover for e-commerce estimated by Fevad at around 130 billion euros and a 15% increase in the last quarter of 2021 , the metaverse can bring new development opportunities for companies.

A new potential for multi-channel presence

With the advent of social networks, many companies have been able to seize the opportunities represented by multi-channel selling. The growth of e-commerce has also been able to evolve hand in hand with that of consumer habits, whose online purchases have notably increased in the context of the pandemic .

While Facebook/Meta has declared itself to be one of the major players in the future of the metaverse, other companies have expressed their wish to develop their own metaverse. Adidas has thus communicated on the creation of its own digital universe, the Adiverse, in collaboration with the Sandbox platform. The company has thus marketed digital accessories through this channel , as well as associated exclusive physical products.

Fashion companies are not the only companies to embark on the adventure: players in the catering sector (article in English), the education sector , or even entertainment such as Netflix (article in English) are on the list. origin of projects linked to the metaverse.

Offering a variety of sales platforms to customers is important for businesses. Having an optimized multi-channel sales strategy can allow them to expand their visibility and online presence, while integrating their more traditional physical sales channels. Multichannel e-commerce software is a tool to consider for centralizing the management of their various sales channels.

Towards next-generation marketing?

From virtual fitting rooms , to the recreation of blinds in a digital version , the practice of V-commerce (virtual commerce based on augmented reality or virtual reality already uses cutting-edge technologies to promote a new experience. brand and product to customers. The integration of these technologies within the metaverse could offer customers the possibility of benefiting from an immersive experience and testing the products offered for sale in a realistic way, in 2D or 3D.

One of the other trends invested in by the metaverse is that of influencer marketing. This principle has already spread to companies, with the latter not hesitating to call on influencers to promote their products and images to their communities. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing could hit $15 billion by the end of 2022 , ranking it among the fastest growing industries.

If real influencers could invest the metaverse, other options have also been designed by brands. This is how Prada introduced the general public to the figure of Candy, a digital influencer (article in English), chosen to represent the brand.  Other influencer initiatives have emerged, in Asia but also in America, where some avatars such as Lil Miquela record sales of 7,000 dollars (around €6,196) per publication. 

Whether operated by real or virtual influencers, influence marketing allows companies to amplify the reach of their message to a targeted audience. By promoting products or services to their community, influencers are a lever to consider for increasing sales and offering significant brand visibility. Influencer marketing software can help you manage your influencer selection and tracking strategy.

The metaverse still has challenges ahead

While the metaverse offers new avenues of exploration for brands, it still remains an area subject to significant challenges to be met. 

One of the first challenges observed is that of technique . If the concept of metaverse advocates immersiveness, the latter passes above all through the appropriate equipment. If Facebook had, for example , already invested in the field by buying the Oculus brand, the market for virtual headsets and glasses, although growing, is still young and developing with the general public. 

Another important issue is that of the legal regulations around and within the metaverse. In addition to issues related to information security, the appropriation of data collected, and respect for the privacy of users, there is also that of the management of potential offenses and crimes committed via this digital universe, and therefore of a legal framework which remains undefined to this day .  Finally, the economic ecosystem on which the metaverse is based is still in its infancy. Based on a virtual economy where economic exchanges are carried out through NFTs , the metaverse sheds light on the questions linked to the use of crypto-assets

: the security, volatility and supervision of these assets are always at the heart of the debates.

Anticipating the prerequisites of the metaverse is a necessity

If the metaverse can represent new opportunities for brands in terms of online presence and sales, they must also first understand and master the new challenges associated with it. The notions of cybersecurity, technological investments and personnel trained in their use, but also the strategic development of their presence on the metaverse remain imperatives to be analysed.

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