The future of shopping is entertainment. It's not enough to have an online storefront – brands must do more. Consumers today are looking for novel, immersive, and entertaining shopping experiences.
As marketers, omnichannel is one of our favorite buzzwords. The go-to definition is great experiences, delivered anywhere, at any time and across any channel. When the phrase was first introduced nearly 20 years ago, that fundamentally meant online, in-store, and on mobile devices.
Today, the omnichannel landscape is more complicated.
Shoppers are browsing + buying far beyond the reach of a retailer’s sites, stores, and apps. They’re in total control, choosing when, where, and how they engage with a brand.
Now the metaverse is opening up even more channels.
What does that mean for marketers? How do we manage marketing and the metaverse to deliver the best omnichannel marketing experiences?
Marketing and the metaverse: Omnichannel expands
Even before the metaverse became an inescapable trend, social commerce had expanded the world of omnichannel marketing.
According to the latest Emarsys data, nearly a third of shoppers (32%) now buy items directly from Facebook, while 14% shop on Instagram. Among younger audiences, 30% also now buy via TikTok.
New devices also are stretching omnichannel into new realms. According to the data, 14% of us shop via our smart TVs, while one in 10 shop using a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa.
Just think what that means for the omnichannel experience. People are buying products without even seeing them. That’s a huge challenge for retailers looking to stay front of mind or hoping to build memorable brands.
Now, VR and AR are opening up a whole host of new channels for shoppers to interact with (and buy from). As these virtual experiences combine, they’re forming the basis of the metaverse — a new virtual world defined by digital social connections between consumers.
Fashion brands and retailers dive into the metaverse
Already, some of the world’s biggest brands are toying with these new experiences. This year saw the launch of the world’s first Metaverse Fashion Week, with brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Dolce & Gabbana being the first to test the virtual waters.
Retailers like Forever 21 are also experimenting in this space, building VR stores, and partnering with metaverse gaming platforms like Roblox.
Still, before we get too caught up in the hype of the metaverse, we need to remember that all this technology has to be grounded within one, singular, unifying strategy.
If you’re going to meet customers where they are and with what they want, you need the technological infrastructure to support it – and that’s where omnichannel experience comes in.
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Meeting customers where THEY want to meet you
How can you cut through the noise around technological advancements and prioritize the most important innovations for your business – without alienating your customers?
This is still all about engaging anywhere customers want to be met – regardless of whether we’re selling online, on mobile, via smart speaker, in-store, or inside the metaverse.The marketing approach must be consistent, and that means having two key things in place:
- Unified data: No matter how futuristic the channel, customer data must be connected — not siloed. The metaverse gives us yet another way to get to know our customers, understanding their behaviors, what they’re buying and what they enjoy interacting with. These insights provide vital knowledge for retailers, helping to augment customers’ profiles and build a more unified view of their needs.
- Personalization: Whether inside the metaverse or out, customers will still expect personalized experiences. They’ll still want to know that brands understand their preferences and are serving up content that matters to them. The fundamentals that we’ve come to expect from email marketing or e-commerce design will still apply in the new virtual world.
Discover how today’s most successful brands build an omnichannel personalization strategy that drives growth and revenue.
Marketing, the metaverse, and seamless experiences
At the same time, it’s important to remember that consumers aren’t leaving the internet behind in exchange for the metaverse.
AR and VR technologies may be developing at a rapid pace, but consumers will use this tech to supplement their existing experiences on the web, on email, and on social media.
That means brands must consider how best to combine the old ways with the new — something that requires an omnichannel approach. You need to be able to personalize your campaigns everywhere, doing the running on your customer’s behalf, and moving through their omnichannel journey with them.
For all the intrigue the metaverse has created, as marketers, we’re still talking about the same idea: using omnichannel marketing to drive business outcomes.
The fundamentals haven’t changed for delivering an omnichannel experience.
Nobody is planning to live permanently inside the metaverse (not yet anyway!). Just like any other touchpoint, consumers will dip in and out, jumping between one platform and the next.
It’s up to marketers to make sure all these platforms work together seamlessly, with personalized, omnichannel customer experiences at their heart.