E-commerce trends in 2024 reflect an always-on society. See the top 15 trends and stats driving the future of commerce.
The long-awaited and much-anticipated metaverse is here now. Leading brands are tapping it to create immersive experiences, forge magnetic connections with customers and sell physical, digital and blended “phygital” products and services in paradigm-shifting ways.
A metamorphosis of culture and technology has moved metaverse commerce from “outer-rim” fantasy to Middle America Main Street. The pandemic crystallized the potency of virtual experiences. People grew not just comfortable working, learning, socializing and buying online—they relished it.
For commerce, ingenious technologies and channels sprang up to meet new needs and wants just as quickly as they appeared. Even as physical stores reopened, customers engaged with experiences that blended the best of in-store retail with the best of online shopping.
In this new world, the metaverse—with its fluid, all-in blend of physical, digital and virtual experiences—no longer sits on some perpetual horizon. It’s what smart businesses are doing now to connect with and win over customers.
Making it real: Commerce in the metaverse
By 2026, an estimated 25% of consumers will spend at least one hour in the metaverse each day and nearly one-third of businesses are expected to have metaverse-ready products and services then too.
Metaverse commerce opportunities range widely, with use cases emerging constantly. And you don’t even have to completely rethink your commerce strategy to make the metaverse part of your omnichannel playbook.
Through augmented reality (AR), customers can bring products to life. There’s something magical about seeing a product in its intended space. Virtual try-ons, for example, let your customers see if a cosmetic matches their skin tone or if a sofa suits their living room. Physical stores are using virtual reality (VR) to demonstrate how a product can be used or show the environment it will be used in.
An even greater range of revenue-generating opportunities across all industries and generational demographics opens up when metaverse capability is paired with the next evolution of the internet.
Often referred to as Web3, it’s where decentralized technologies like blockchain, virtual currencies and peer-to-peer networks give users more control and transparency around digital assets and how brands use their personal data.
Consumers aren't leaving the internet behind in exchange for the metaverse. How can marketers keep up?
Leaping into the metaverse for amazing CX: Examples of how the metaverse can revamp your commerce
Metaverse commerce opportunities are practically endless.
Here are some examples and ideas to consider for driving customer engagement in the metaverse e-commerce environment:
- Reimagine loyalty programs by replacing “points” with virtual currency that can be used for immediate engagement and feedback. Brands can use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to offer virtual or physical rewards such as access to an exclusive event, product line or promotion. These programs can help your brand grow by creating buzz, building loyalty, and also making it easier to implement partnerships with complementary brands because tokens can access products or perks across a partner network in real time.
- Design immersive hybrid events that motivate B2B buyers to visit a physical booth and/or a 24/7 virtual space in the metaverse where they can try out products and services or connect with other buyers. By blending and unifying physical and digital experiences, B2B companies can drive unique, highly engaging experiences. And by linking data from pre-, during and post-event interactions with a CRM tool, your brand will gain a deeper understanding of what prospects and buyers really care about—so your sales and customer success teams can follow up in ways that make a difference.
- Create digital twins of physical goods with virtual replicas to open up new business models and experiences. This trend is taking off with luxury brands that want to stay true to their brand while also attracting digitally native young consumers. Customers who buy a stunning designer handbag, for example, get a digital twin that their avatar can dangle on an arm in virtual communities to flex their status. And it’s not just for luxury goods. Sports brands are tapping a new dimension, with fans outfitting their avatars in digital jerseys featuring their team.
- Leverage 3D configure-price-quote or CPQ functionalities that allow customers to design and visualize products and bundles—and empower them to make confident decisions on their own. 3D visualization and configuration of products will be a game changer, streamlining user experience and shortening sales cycles. A customer could, for instance, customize a large piece of equipment, see a hologram of it in the intended location and then generate an accurate, personalized quote for the order. This self-service model reduces a brand’s design and sales efforts while increasing conversions.
Augmented reality is transforming online shopping. Find out how brands are using AR technologies to deliver innovative e-commerce experiences.
Getting started in the metaverse
Navigating opportunities around the metaverse can be challenging, with world leaders discussing it and investors pouring tens of billions into it at the same time skeptics question its staying power.
To make the right moves in metaverse commerce, start with a sense of purpose. Simply wanting to be a pioneer on the metaverse frontier shouldn’t be the motivation. Instead, think through what outcomes you want to achieve and how immersive experiences can help you do it. Do you want to:
- Tap a new audience for an existing line of products or service?
- Increase customer engagement by refreshing your loyalty program?
- Improve funnel conversion rate?
The answers to questions like these will help you enter the metaverse in ways that matter to both your customers and your bottom line.
Chitra Venkatachalapathy, Senior Manager at Deloitte Digital, co-authored this article.