The metaverse is poised to dramatically transform the retail customer experience like e-commerce did back in the 1990s. According to McKinsey & Company, the metaverse may have a market impact on e-commerce of between $2 trillion and $2.6 trillion by 2030. It has the potential to improve CX and foster deeper customer engagement by creating immersive experiences that allow consumers to involve themselves in the brand journey. According to PwC, customer experience is an important factor in purchasing decisions for 73% of consumers, and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.
Although the metaverse is still a work in progress, forward-thinking retailers are already starting to establish the technological and organizational foundation to expand into the metaverse.
Will your business be ready?
What is the Metaverse?
According to McKinsey, the metaverse is “the emerging 3-D-enabled digital space that uses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other advanced internet and semiconductor technology to allow people to have lifelike personal and business experiences online.” Through a sense of immersion and real-time interactivity, it will revolutionize education (by providing digital classrooms and training tools) and e-commerce (via an immersive advertising channel and virtual retail destinations).
“The metaverse is going to be available in a number of different ways—VR/AR glasses, smartphones, tablets and PCs, chat rooms with video, but also probably via up-and-coming things like holograms, digital signage, digital assets and digital content,” says Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC’s augmented reality (AR/VR) team.
How the Metaverse Can Improve CX
Consumers currently interact with brands on mobile devices and desktops, communicating via email, SMS and chatbot. The metaverse will elevate consumers’ expectations that brands provide a more connected, immersive experience that integrates several physical and digital retail modes.
For example, a car shopper receives a personalized email from an automotive company, promoting a special deal. Via a VR headset, the customer visits the virtual showroom to “build” their dream car and take it for a virtual test drive, accompanied by an avatar that answers questions about the car’s safety features and performance. A few hours later, while browsing the dealership website via laptop, the consumer schedules an appointment at the dealership for a live test drive before buying the car.
Retail Applications for Metaverse Technology
In a space where people can interact with each other in a virtual environment, there are many opportunities for retailers to connect with customers in real time at the right moment. Being able to bridge the channels of the physical world to the metaverse (another channel) will be key to enabling a true omnichannel approach. Consider weaving in these metaverse touchpoints across the customer journey:
1. Virtual storefronts
Metaverse technology allows retailers to create virtual storefronts where customers can browse and purchase products. Retailers can create an immersive experience with detailed product images, 360-degree views and even virtual try-ons. This allows customers to shop from the comfort of their own home and still have a personalized shopping experience. According to AR/VR provider ByondXR, the metaverse experience produces a 400% increase in time spent in the store by customers and a 240% boost to brand loyalty.
2. Virtual events
Retailers can use metaverse technology to create virtual events such as product launches, fashion shows or pop-up shops. These events can be accessed from anywhere in the world, allowing retailers to reach a wider audience and connect in unique ways. Customers can interact with the products in real time and have a personalized experience with the brand.
3. Personalized recommendations
Metaverse technology can be used to provide personalized recommendations to customers. Retailers can use virtual assistants to suggest products based on the customer’s browsing history or preferences. Additionally, understanding customer preferences in the metaverse can inform product recommendations across other channels like web and in-store. This creates a more personalized and seamless shopping experience and can increase customer loyalty.
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Retailers can use gamification to increase customer engagement in the metaverse. By creating games or challenges, retailers can encourage customers to interact with the brand and products. This instant gratification can serve as a differentiator, leading to increased sales and brand awareness.
How to Prepare for the Metaverse
To successfully blend customer experiences in the physical world with experiences in the metaverse, retailers must design the metaverse with the customers in mind and with these three key elements:
- Create extensive customer data profiles. To develop customer-centric metaverse experiences, developers must understand consumer preferences and behavior. That understanding comes from customer data, including demographics and browsing and purchase history.
- Provide omnichannel customer communications. To create immersive experiences, brands must be able to interact seamlessly with customers using voice, chat, email, SMS and other channels to stitch physical and digital worlds together.
- Prioritize security and privacy. Establishing and maintaining digital trust will be even more challenging—and critical—in the metaverse, which has the potential for thousands of people to interact simultaneously. The immersive nature of the metaverse means that hacks, theft or harassment in VR, for example, may feel more violating than in 2D environments. Companies must take steps to protect consumers in their metaverse experiences.Brands must share their security and privacy policies transparently. According to the 2021 U.S. Digital Trust Survey, 52% of US adult social media users said that whether a platform protects their privacy and data is extremely impactful on their decision to interact with the ads or sponsored content they see there.
Strengthen CX to Lay the Metaverse Foundation
CSG’s retail customer experience experts and solutions can help you implement smarter omnichannel notifications and journey management to improve the customer experience. Contact us today to discover how we can help you build a solid digital CX foundation that facilitates your future expansion into the metaverse.
Read our new State of the Customer Experience 2023 Report to learn more about laying the foundation for the metaverse and discover how to capitalize on three other major CX trends.