The industry is changing, and the two terms recently exposed are "Metaverse" and "social commerce." Some are skeptical of the hype of Metaverse, and some are describing it as the pinnacle of the internet, entertainment, and e-commerce. Now, retailers are seeing social commerce, especially Livestream shopping and the Metaverse, as opportunities to reach a wider network of consumers, providing customers a new level of socialization and immersive experience. With the onset of the virus, consumers started spending more and more time online. This is when the retailers and brands constantly started investing in emerging technologies through current gaming and social media sessions to get an edge against their competitors.
Will Metaverse provide new growth prospects for brands in the realm of social commerce?
Over the past few quarters, the way businesses have evolved by leveraging emerging technologies, it can only be said that change is the only constant thing. The newest is the Metaverse, a virtual reality constructs merging virtual life with real life. However, how much it will be beneficial for the growth of the business is food for thought.
In a cut-throat competitive world, businesses have been adopting new trends, entering into partnerships with several platforms and trying out new algorithms with a motive to capture more market share than their rivals. Therefore, these businesses are open to change. Over the next four quarters, more than half of the businesses plan to invest in metaverse tactics. Metaverse will play a significant role in social media's future, thus elevating brands' confidence in using them.
Though marketers of these brands and businesses have confidence in these emerging technologies, consumers are still in the early stage of accepting these technologies. However, consumers, especially the millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly showing interest in short-form video formats and the platforms that support them. However, marketers are preparing strategies to accommodate the surge in interest over the next two to three years. Therefore, it can be projected that the brands and businesses that will start using this time to test and learn the advanced technologies will ultimately gain a competitive advantage in this next evolution of the social space.
A few findings will highlight the recent aspects of the social commerce space and Metaverse. For instance,
Metaverse is good for gamers; however, it is ahead of consumer adoption
Metaverse is nothing but a space parallel to the physical world, in which the user can spend his digital life mostly through avatars. The Metaverse includes augmented reality such as Snap filters, NFTs, and immersive gaming experiences; even TikTok had forayed into the Metaverse umbrella. Gaming and virtual worlds, such as Roblox and The Sandbox, are also all part of the Metaverse. Most importantly, until and unless consumers plug into their preferred worlds, no retailer can start selling to them.
This virtual world has already attracted around half a billion monthly active users, so it's obvious that marketers and financiers are approaching the Metaverse space as the next growth frontier this year. In the social commerce domain, the area of virtual reality (VR) poses infinite opportunities for retailers to innovate in product discovery and personalization, thus creating an immersive brand experience for the customers. From the shopper's point of view, virtual reality offers a highly personalized digital experience that mirrors the in-store shopping experience. This scenario is perfect; however, how many consumers are ready to dive into this new wave is a question.
Social shopping is bolstered through virtual assistance
Activities beyond purchasing, such as shopping in virtual malls along with try-ons, are mostly attracting consumers. Notably, much before the start of the pandemic, retailers began incorporating augmented reality (AR) into their experiences, recognizing the tech's potential as a highly effective tool for improving conversion rate. Therefore, the social shoppers are more convinced through the convenience and confidence-building "try before you buy" aspects of AR.
Social commerce still demonstrates much potential
Though Metaverse is the next revolution in the domain of e-commerce, it's early in the development phase. Until the time comes when Metaverse enables brands and retailers to reach consumers in higher numbers and at more personal levels than ever before, social commerce will rule. This space still has the potential for better visibility, increased ROI, and more trackability.
Live streaming, which is now attracting several brands to reach out to the young generation, has strong upside potential. Therefore, it is anticipated that influencer-led shopping, along with conversations directly with consumers — in real-time, will drive the social commerce market over the next few quarters.
Short video-sharing apps are testing the water before entering the Metaverse space
The shift in the digital landscape attracted both the established and newer platforms to capture increased consumer attention and therefore purchasing. For instance,
With the growing interest in Metaverse, ByteDance, TikTok's owner and its Chinese sibling brand Douyin, launched a social app, Paiduidao, in China, enabling users to interact in a virtual community through avatars.
Paiduidao characterizes the functions of a Metaverse as a network of three-dimensional virtual worlds where people can interact; Douyin refused it to be a metaverse.
After the unprecedented growth of e-commerce during the pandemic, it is transforming again, overtaking social and preparing for expansion in the virtual world. Therefore, consumers are anticipated to slowly catch up. At the same time, the retailers will meet them when they arrive, enabling emerging technologies to grow exponentially over the long run. PayNXT360 expects this new wave to engage a larger customer base over the next three to four years with the widespread adoption of AR and VR technologies amongst the youngsters.
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