What will commerce in the Metaverse be like? | New virtual business models

What will commerce in the Metaverse be like? | New virtual business models

If you stop to briefly observe how people behave in a physical store, you will see that customers perfectly master the essence of physical-to-physical commerce. In fact, more often than not just being in a physical store causes customers to buy extra products that were not on their shopping list.
This is one of the reasons why brands continue to invest in physical retail stores, because this type of business creates for them the assurance that they can elevate and capitalize on the physical shopping experience and "call it a day" in the store. What is also very clear, is that physical retail has evolved, transforming its shopping processes into consumer experiences, which have become one of the big drivers of retail today.
However, when we think about the footprint of brands in digital and virtual economies, we seem to have more doubts. Ecommerce and online stores have become more established in the last decade and the vast majority of us are now used to shopping online. But, despite this, we can sometimes feel some distrust, insecurity, or even lack of added value in online shopping processes. Perhaps that experiential factor of physical shopping and the possibility of touching, feeling and comparing those products we want to buy are still difficult barriers to overcome.
The intention of this article is to shed light on the new models of commerce that are emerging and will emerge as a result of the construction and adoption of the Metaverse by society, and how these, can close that gap between the processes of physical commerce and the processes of digital and virtual commerce, turning them into more creative, immersive and engaging experiences for consumers.
Purchase virtual items in the Metaverse

The evolution of commerce, from physical to virtual

For centuries, the only way to trade has been from physical to physical. Customers went to a physical store, selected the products they wanted and paid with cash (and for a few years now also by card or even cell phone) for the material goods they wanted.

Technological possibilities have made it possible to find new and different forms of commerce. These began with the arrival of the Internet into our lives, introducing new markets for exchanges and favoring internationalization. This is how online sales, ecommerce and even, later on, sales through social networks began. And, just as happened with the advent of the Internet, the mass adoption of the Metaverse, when it happens, will bring about new business models, new markets and new ways of trading.
Marketing strategies, and even the products that brands sell, will evolve and be different as we move into the Metaverse. For this reason, professionals will need to consider many more variables to understand their customers' new needs and foster customer engagement.
According to various experts, these are going to be the aspects they consider key to understanding the consumers of the future:
  • The demographic and psychographic data
  • The development of skills
  • The gamification and interaction of the user
  • The creation of events and the specialization of the user. creation of events and immersive experiences
  • The connection with the community and fandom
The Metaverse in the future, two people playing chess virtually seeing each other through holograms

What is the current market situation in the Metaverse?

According to a recent survey conducted by Zipline; 85% of Generation Z respondents, 75% of millennials and 69% of Generation X respondents assured that they would be interested in living immersive hybrid shopping experiences, for example, including technologies such as Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality in the sales process in physical stores or even online shopping.
Despite the fact that we could not consider this purely as the Metaverse, it is a great first step in the right direction and makes it clear that the customer of the future will not emerge from scratch but that the customer is already here. It is not only a question of the future, but also of the immediate present.
Brands interested in starting to dedicate part of their budget to the Metaverse should start now, experimenting with the functional and currently successful options to try to figure out how to innovate and improve them progressively. Undoubtedly, the key lies in the development of immersive technologies and in engaging consumers by providing them with increasingly accessible, entertaining and interactive digital content. But without forcing consumers to go where the brand is, but making the brand look for them where they already are.
This is why we see that big brands looking to create experiences in the Metaverse are focusing on the most popular virtual environments and video games today, such as Decentraland, Fortnite, Roblox or Minecraft, for example. Investing in the next desert island, might sound more exciting but what if that island stays deserted for life

Main business models in the Metaverse

The main methods of commerce, at present, are physical-to-physical and digital-to-physical. That is, buying in a store face-to-face or buying online through ecommerce. And while it is true that, in some sectors such as video games, virtual-to-virtual purchases are made, this method is still not widespread among the majority of the population.
What experiences can we expect to live as consumers related to the virtual world? These experiences can range from an Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality activation at the point of sale, product placement in a popular virtual environment, full virtualization of a store using VR glasses, or even direct shopping in the Metaverse.

The first 3 are already possible, and the fourth will be in the future... And that means that consumers, already in the present but especially in the future, will demand more and more this way, not only to buy, but to relate and interact with their favorite brands.
How will the Metaverse change the business models of companies? Mainly,specialists predict that these will be the business models that will be enhanced thanks to the Metaverse:

D2A, the model of Free to Play video games

There is an emerging business model in the virtual world focused on providing new products to modify the digital presence of users, i.e. their unique virtual avatar. For this reason, it is referred to as D2A and stands for Direct-to-Avatar.

This business model leaves aside traditional marketing techniques, focused on selling to people, and places the focus on selling to the avatar, whose aesthetics and appearance in the virtual world is highly valued by the new generations of consumers, the main stakeholders in the Metaverse. So much so, that in some cases they value their digital presence as much or more than their real-world presence.

And for this reason, D2A is becoming a fast-growing segment of the digital market that achieves a greater sense of connection with the user, through their avatar, to buy digital goods that sometimes may or may not have their real-world counterpart.

The clearest example can be found in the sale of skins, virtual garments and cosmetic products, both in video games such as Fortnite and League of Legends or in virtual environments such as Decentraland and Roblox.


Fortnite skins selection screen to dress the virtual avatar
Virtual avatar customization in Decentraland

Avatar development for the fashion industry

V2P, the direct purchase model in the Metaverse

What if from the virtual world we could buy physical products for the real world? Is this possible? Similar to how we buy products over the Internet, it will be possible in the near future, but instead of buying in a static 2D web we will do it in a 3D web and through the Metaverse.

This is a new form of commerce that we can call V2P, i.e. Virtual-to-Physical. Virtual-to-physical activations involve purchasing a virtual good or making a purchase within a first virtual marketplace that allows us to obtain some kind of physical product or experience.

To understand it better we can imagine that David Guetta gives a concert in the Metaverse and takes the opportunity to put on sale 20 unique commemorative NFTs related to his best tracks. And by buying one of these NFTs, the buyer also gets a VIP ticket for his next in-person concert. There we would have a virtual to physical purchase!

Although it could also be simpler, creating a virtual showroom from which you could buy the brand's products and replacing the traditional ecommerce that we all know.


David Guetta virtual concert at Roblox Metaverse


P2V, the model of experiential physical products

However, we can also find the opposite case in which the purchase of a product in the real world has an associated virtual product or an exclusive immersive experience. This model is called P2V and stands for Physical-to-Virtual, being just the opposite of the previous one, the purchase of a physical product has a purely virtual benefit associated with it.

We can consider that this model is simpler and more effective for companies whose customers are not so involved with the virtual world, giving them the convenience of having a physical item or experience in the real world, regardless of whether they later decide to materialize and take advantage of the virtual benefit or not.

An example of this business model would be Grandes Vinos products, marketed under its "El Circo" and "Beso de Vino" brands, which include an immersive Augmented Reality experience that can be enjoyed by downloading its app and pointing it at the wine bottles. A way to complement the purchase with a virtual benefit, in this case using Augmented Reality.

More information about this project!


We can also talk about the recent example carried out by Coca-Cola, a few weeks ago, with the launch of its new flavor called Dreamworld, in collaboration with the Tomorrowland festival. The packaging of this new flavor includes a QR code that redirects the user to a Web Augmented Reality experience related to the music festival, providing that extra virtual benefit.


Augmented Reality immersive experience in Coca-Cola's new flavor


How to prepare your company for the wave of the Metaverse

There are two options for the managers of a company; they can continue business as usual and continue to use traditional strategies or they can start to lay out a roadmap to experiment and test in the virtual spaces that are emerging and, in the future, we will consider the Metaverse. Because the evolution in consumer behavior is not going to disappear and sooner or later they will have to think about taking the next step and adopting new technological advances as they emerge. So why not start designing the path now
While it is true, there is still no perfect roadmap for marketing in the Metaverse, we currently have enough examples of initiatives from which companies can learn and draw their own conclusions to help them set the course and move in the right direction.
It's not a question of jumping into the abyss, no one is suggesting that. But it is that, through a defined strategy with clear objectives, you can take measured and realistic steps to generate the change that the consumer society will demand in the future, a future that will not be immediate but that, in reality, is much closer than we think.

Your company is not ready for the Metaverse and you do not know how to strengthen its virtual presence? We recommend you to start exploring the uses of technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in your sector, you will surely be surprised by the possibilities and uses they have.

If you need a professional agency to advise you, develop the idea you have in mind and accompany you throughout the process, tell us about your case and together we will design the project that makes the most sense for your business.

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