According to a recent survey by the human insight company UserTesting, 42% of shoppers plan to shop in the metaverse this holiday season. Most of them (88%) plan to buy things for their avatars. Market research company OnePoll surveyed more than 2,000 American shoppers and found that almost the same number of men (350) and women (394) would shop at Metaverse, with most of them between the ages of 26 and 41.
Janelle Estes, chief insights officer at UserTesting, says that retailers should think about “phygital” strategies that combine digital and real-world experiences. This is in addition to giving shoppers a metaverse experience.
“For example, Target shoppers can check inventory online, see where it is in the store, and then find it and buy it themselves or order it to be delivered curbside,” Estes told TechRepublic. “Choice and convenience are key to keeping customers coming back.”
Forrester’s vice president and director of research, Mike Proulx, said that mainstream commerce was a very new idea in the metaverse.
“While I’m sure parents will be stocking up on Roblox ‘Robux’ gift cards for their kids, no one is going to be venturing into the 3D virtual world to get a Black Friday deal anytime soon,” he said.
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Mike Mason, the global head of technology at the tech consulting firm ThoughtWorks, doesn’t think there will be much interest in shopping in the metaverse this holiday season. However, he agrees that when it does happen, it will be driven by avatars.
ThoughtWorks defines the metaverse as “a 3D experience powered by the underlying Internet, VR or AR, but many will include components of Web3 in their definition,” Mason said. “As for holiday shopping in a 3D Internet, we think there is likely to be only a limited amount, primarily with players of games like Roblox or Fortnite joining their avatar outfits.”
He said that some people may have bought non-fungible tokens and digital assets, but that NFT sales have dropped a lot from their previous highs.
He said it will be interesting to see what Nike plans to do with Swoosh, its Web3 platform that will eventually let users buy, sell, and trade virtual shoes and clothes. Swoosh opens on Friday.
“Personally, I think they’ll announce a virtual sneaker design tool with gaming or metaverse tie-ins, like being able to wear your virtual sneakers in Roblox,” Mason said. “They could start to take advantage of some of the other capabilities of NFTs, such as using tokens to allow access to member ‘exclusions.’ What everyone missed around NFTs is this angle – of digital assets. Possession may allow you membership in a virtual club.
There is value in this, and not just in hoping that your digital assets appreciate in value, he said.
“It’s exciting to see brands investing in metaverse-related experiments, and we recommend that these experiments are a great way to stay involved as the metaverse concept evolves,” Mason said.
Shopping brings back old memories
Surprisingly, the UserTesting survey found that people will shop in person again on Black Friday and during the holiday season of 2022, despite worries about inflation and the aftermath of a pandemic. The survey also found that going to the store during the holidays is back in style. 63% of people who took the survey said that going to the store on Black Friday is a tradition they don’t want to give up.
The survey showed that the number of people who prefer to shop online and in stores is almost the same. One third would like to do both. More than two out of five people polled (43%) said they miss the excitement of shopping on Black Friday. Wanting to get something right away is one of the main reasons people want to go to the stores.
81% of Gen Z respondents said that getting something right away and having a good time in the store were the main reasons they went to a store, while only 49% of Millennials said the same thing. 42% of those who answered said that shopping in stores is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.
Shoppers on Black Friday want stores to have digital capabilities
Even though shopping in person is still popular, the survey found that customers now expect more and more of the digital technology they have grown up with.
51% of survey respondents desire a smart shopping cart or an app that tells them where aisle an item is on, but 47% prefer to use promotional codes or digital coupons.
Customer Experience In-Store vs Metaverse
In some instances, it may be necessary to reproduce the in-store experience or create a similar experience in the Metaverse. However, Estes feels that “the Metaverse was created to offer a more engaging and enriched experience that engages users.”
As the metaverse continues to grow in popularity, retailers must keep in mind that it is still relatively young, he remarked.
“The reality is there are many other channels for retailers to choose from, such as web, mobile, in-store and social, and they need to focus on strengthening those experiences as well,” Estes said.
Mason stated that brands should not attempt to mimic conventional in-store experiences with virtual ones, as they are quite different mediums with different strengths for connecting with customers.
“The important thing to remember is that Metaverse experiences are new and opt-in,” he said. “They need to be fun and engaging for the user to find something meaningful in them. After all, moving to a competing brand’s metaverse experience is only a click or a wave of a hand. It is important for companies to consider that their brand new medium How will it convert into Brands should consider how their brand representatives will greet consumers. Will they be serious, funny or edgy? What kind of language and voice will be used, and how will their brand avatar present themselves? Mason advises companies to factor security into their metaverse plans.”
“As with any new medium, there are potential downsides, and brands must be very careful that their metaverse experience is properly moderated and that people can feel safe inside that virtual space,” he said.
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