The pandemic was a stark reminder of the value of the supply chain – no one will ever forget the great toilet paper frenzy of 2020. Coupled with geopolitical and climate change headwinds, shoppers have become used to disruption, but they know it breeds innovation too. The most recent techceleration of digital retail came as we were forced to redefine our physical and social needs to respond to pandemic disruption. And we adopted it quickly. A recent survey of Australian shoppers finds that while 77% of us associate shopping with physical stores, 83% believe that brands need to have an online store.
Enter the Metaverse – where shopping, entertainment and life collide in the virtual world. Metaverse platforms are delivering immersive 3D experiences and can help build deeper and more personalised customer relationships – and in turn, loyalty. The Metaverse is already in its infancy with uptake thriving among early adopters. The popularity of gaming, and virtual and augmented reality has seen many brands and retailers experiment given two in five (41 per cent) of AR device users are already using AR at home for shopping. But remember, we will always need physical goods – food, clothing, healthcare; and the Metaverse is now a growing part of the omni-channel world.
The Metaverse allows people to experience physical goods in the virtual world before purchasing. And it is all about immersive experiences and the social art of shopping. It is being explored by all ends of the consumer goods sector, from food to fashion. For example, Campbell’s Soup commemorated the re-design of its iconic soup label selling non-fungible token (NFT) digital art pieces to prove authenticity with all proceeds benefitting Feeding America; while Nike’s engagement with Roblox created Nikeland, an interactive experience that had almost 10 million visitors in its first five months.
Big brands are aware that the Metaverse will have a role to play in their future. McDonald's is already applying to expand its trademark coverage to include protection for virtual goods, such as food and drink, and for its virtual restaurants and retail outlets in the Metaverse. But before you start to invest in Metaverse real estate to build a virtual shopfront, there are simpler ways you can start to engage in meta-play with digital shoppers right now.
Are you selling your product digitally yet? Do you have an app? Can that app deliver an experience? For example, many make-up brands are providing virtual makeovers through augmented reality (AR) technology, so consider investing in any form of digital experience to test the virtual waters for your brand or product. And plan for how to optimise your online presence and integrate customer experience. Why not open a virtual pop-up shop via a social or gaming platform or leverage loyalty with NFT rewards? Remember, this is all about meeting consumers where they are.
The Metaverse is a long-term strategy and one to watch. In the meantime, getting omni-channel right is key to capitalising on Australia’s pandemic shift. You’ll need to put more emphasis on first-party data to learn about your customers and save their shopping cart. As Luci Ellis, Reserve Bank of Australia Assistant Governor said to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, “In the dynamic realm of business, innovation and investment, though, it is more a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Find out more about digital trends in eRetail in our On the Pulse on-demand webinar. Watch it here.