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2023 predictions for the Metaverse and the Virtual Retail Space

Technology has evolved in ways many of us could never have imagined. From basic computers to the internet to immersive virtual environments, all within a matter of decades. But what about the metaverse’s future? Right now, the future for the metaverse, Web3 and virtual technology looks brighter than ever. Not only does the idea of a virtual world excite a broad audience and have a huge range of uses in retail and e-commerce, but it’s got the attention of the corporate world which also hopes to utilize its many applications for profit and growth.

The virtual space has evolved significantly in recent years, with metaverse platforms providing the foundation and tools to create virtual stores and other enterprises. Combine this with the unprecedented hype surrounding NFTs, and there’s plenty of potential for success if businesses can engage and maintain the interest of their target audiences using virtual resources.

Here we delve deeper into the near future of the virtual world, but more specifically, predictions for how it will evolve to suit the varying needs of individuals and businesses in 2023.

The Corporate Metaverse

Although the metaverse is already used for business and branding, be it through the sale of digital assets or for marketing purposes, it’s still very much a platform for leisure. This isn’t to say that there’s no money to be made in the virtual world. Just ask brands such as DiorBurberry and Bloomingdale’s. They all dipped their toe in the virtual waters and struck gold in the form of online sales,  digital assets revenues and NFTs. 

However, what we mean by ‘corporate metaverse’ is essentially a non-identical twin of the current metaverse. Instead of being a space driven by gamification and leisure activities, the corporate virtual world will be a business-focused space for companies to grow and conduct daily operations. Owen Easter, Full Stack Software Engineer at Emperia suggests that “more companies will experiment with the virtual world and metaverse, primarily with work-from-home meetings before expanding their ‘virtual’ services externally.” From tech companies exploring the possibilities of prototype products in a safe, cost-effective space to traditional businesses using the virtual world as office space.

Think about it. Businesses could enjoy massive growth by cutting the costs of real-world office space by investing in VR tech for remote employees. This would instantly offer unlimited space to work, socialize, and more without needing to physically move a muscle.

Virtual Retail

Virtual stores are already garnering the attention of the retail industry as the latest evolution of the space and another example of advanced technology carrying an entire industry forward. Virtual stores provide businesses with a virtual environment to sell and market real and virtual products to customers effectively, while supporting their real-world retail endeavors. While this is entirely possible at present, the next twelve months will see more investment and attention on virtual retail and businesses striving to be key figures in the space.

With the holidays on the horizon, retail is booming. Just last week Emperia launched a virtual experience for Bloomingdale’s, featuring Ralph LaurenCHANEL and Nestlé Nespresso SA, to enable customers to experience the festive magic irrespective of location. 

Ralph Lauren X Bloomingdale’s X Emperia

If the metaverse continues its meteoric rise, the holiday season of 2023 could be unlike anything we have seen before. Fiona Disegni, Partnerships Director at Emperia, says that 2023 will bring a rise to ‘mini verses’. “These defined specific spaces are a way for brands to segment and curate their audience in a more effective way. Brands will value these as they enable the leverage of CRM tools that provide more personalized experiences for customers. Emperia has already initiated this with our pioneering approach of multi-branded rooms within Bloomingdale’s virtual holiday store.”

Another significant consideration for retailers should be holiday pop-up shops and the use of AR within them. The concept has proven beneficial and highly profitable for brands in real life, especially e-commerce brands that use pop-ups as an effective way to connect with customers while enabling them to immerse themselves into the brand irrespective of geographical location. Owen adds that “virtual try on’s (using augmented reality) will improve customer satisfaction & reduce returns on online purchases. Not only is this incredibly convenient for customers, but it’ll in turn reduce e-commerce’s carbon footprint. You can find an example of augmented reality try-ons in our virtual store with Sunglass Hut.”

Metaverse Marketing

The business world is forever looking for new and inspired marketing techniques to engage broader audiences. For many years, websites and social media have been the most effective and modern means of reaching the masses. However, the metaverse has introduced a brand new marketing channel, which has only been utilized by a handful of brands.

Arguably the biggest hurdle for modern brands is finding new ways to engage an audience. The metaverse is new and exciting, especially as it focuses heavily on inclusive, intimate user experiences. Find out more about marketing opportunities in the space here.

NFTs

In recent years, NFTs have carved out a significant niche for themselves in the online world, proving to be particularly valuable to the accelerated development of the metaverse as a way for users to customize their experience and enjoy a unique virtual journey. 

NFTs are already enabling digital creators to have more creative freedom and this will likely continue over the next few years. Many hope that NFTs in 2023 will become more environmentally sustainable which will help them appeal to a wider audience. 

Senior Marketing Manager, Beth, has suggested that “some brands will look to use NFTs to create brand loyalty programmes, or offer exclusive perks for those in possession with a specific NFT.”

An Ecosystem

Along with the growing demand for virtual spaces comes the growth of solutions, adhering to this fast-pace space. From AR try-on solutions, to VR, to security, various metaverse platforms and NFT developers, the metaverse has created a whole new breed of technology providers, building what is now considered the future of e-commerce.

“We are seeing many solutions out there that compliment each other and could come together under this big umbrella of ‘virtual experiences’; just like the mobile revolution and the internet one that preceded it, we will be seeing many of these converging together, leading to an acceleration of innovation in this space” says Gil Regev, CMO at Emperia.

What are your 2023 predictions for the metaverse and virtual retail space?

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