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What is the Metaverse, and What Does it Mean for Ecommerce?


Discover what the metaverse is and the potential effects on ecommerce businesses.

In this blog, we'll go into detail about what the metaverse is, how it works, and the effect that it will have on the future of ecommerce. So if you’re as confused as we once were, fear no more, as we’re here to break it down for you.

What is the metaverse?

As of last month, Mark Zuckerburg announced that the umbrella company, Facebook Community would be rebranding itself to ‘Meta’, becoming the digital owner of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp - in an attempt to bring the virtual reality world, or metaverse, to life.

The metaverse refers to a digital world that tech giants predict will have many changes in the way we live within the next decade. A virtual reality world where we will be able to work, shop, communicate and carry out other daily tasks, the metaverse is the reality of everyday social interactions and experiences happening from the comfort of our own homes. Whilst it is expected to have major effects on how we live our lives, it's also predicted to have an impact on the way ecommerce businesses will run in the future

The metaverse doesn't yet exist fully, however with the way the world is going at the moment it will be a surprise if we aren't fully submerged into the metaverse within this decade.

people working

Covid-19 - a catalyst for the metaverse

The way the world has changed due to Covid-19 has already given us a glimpse into what could be this reality, with 37% of the UK population working from home throughout 2020. This force to work from home has changed the way many businesses now operate, with many giving employees the opportunity of ‘hybrid working’ - where they can work from the office and home.

With many working from home, and the country on lockdown from most of 2020, the world soon became accustomed to using virtual meeting rooms and online chat rooms, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom - with lots of people continuing to use these resources long after the end of lockdown. This goes to show the increase in need and dependency on these virtual resources, which serves no question as to why technology giants such as Mark Zuckerberg (owner of Facebook community - now Meta) have faith that metaverse is the future.

If used correctly the metaverse could fundamentally change the way we live our daily lives, and complete everyday tasks, such as going to work, doing a food shop or going for lunch with our friends.

How will the metaverse work?

According to Zuckerberg, speaking at the 2021 Connect Conference, he anticipates that the metaverse will integrate both 2D and 3D reality into a new community. He believes that users will have complete creative control over their virtual worlds, designing everything from homes to space stations, where you can work collaboratively, chat with friends, or study.

Using VR and other existing tech tools, people will be able to jump into another reality, where they will be able to work from home until 5, have a virtual dinner with their friend at 6 then do a food shop at 8, all from the comfort of their living room.

As well as how it's expected to change our lives and the way we do things, the metaverse is also set to have a difference on many existing markets such as social media, gaming, bricks and mortar stores, and it is set to have a major impact on ecommerce businesses.

The metaverse is an exciting but scary change for consumers and small business owners, with a lot of anticipation around what to expect, and to what extent things will change. However, for many large business owners, this is nothing but an exciting prospect. With the promise of a new digital world, it is going to have an inevitable rise in the digital economy.

With the digital world evolving let's take a look at how this will affect the ecommerce industry and what we can expect from the future of ecommerce in the metaverse.

How will the metaverse affect ecommerce?

Whilst speaking about the metaverse, Zuckerburg has discussed how virtual shopping will be one of the main aspects of the new digital world, so we are bound to see many changes across the ecommerce industry.

So, what changes can we expect to see?

New Features

As the metaverse becomes reality for us we are going to see the introduction of new tech features that will change the way we shop online. At the moment, a lot of this is all predictions as the metaverse hasn't quite become our reality yet. However, Zuckerburg announced that Facebook would be opening a new marketing place where people can sell and share 3D items - and once Facebook has introduced this we predict it won't be long until it becomes the norm.

‘The metaverse will remove many of the physical constraints we see on commerce today and make entirely new businesses possible’
Vishal Shah, Meta’s VP

The metaverse will allow ecommerce businesses to increase personalisation for their consumers. Imagine being able to invite every one of your customers to your new range launch party. Well, this will all be possible with the digital advantages of the metaverse. When discussing how online shopping will look in the future they used the story of two friends meeting in a virtual park, discussing that they want a new pair of shoes. A virtual assistant then helps them find what they want, personalises them and lets you try them on, before deciding if you want the physical version.

Due to this vision, payments services are expecting the metaverse to benefit them hugely - as people won't be paying cash in a digital reality of course.

Product discovery - personalisation - fulfilment, all in a few moments, from your home. The metaverse will allow ecommerce businesses to provide their customers with more, without having to pay more.

There is so much to look forward to and a lot to anticipate about the metaverse becoming our reality, so hopefully, this has helped you understand a little more about what to expect and why.

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