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The metaverse. It’s a term we, as consumers and business owners, are starting to hear more frequently. But it’s a world that much of generations Z and Alpha have already embraced.
The word itself is a combination of the Greek prefix “meta,” meaning “beyond,” and “universe.” It is, fundamentally, a meeting of our physical world with the digital.
Imagine the things you already do online: play games, socialize, work, learn, shop, etc.
At some point in the not too distant future, these online activities will no longer exist as purely digital experiences. They will evolve into immersive virtual realities. The internet’s evolution from simple text, to graphics, to videos isn’t over — the phygital experience is next.
The Future of Retail in the Metaverse
Projections for the metaverse and its market size are expected to multiply by over half in just eight short years.In fact, the global metaverse market is projected to be worth about $1.6 billion by 2030 — with a compound annual growth of 50.74% from 2022 to 2030.
So, why is retail the next natural step in the metaverse? For one, shopping is inherently social, and the metaverse is primed to enable a greater digital social setting. With live commerce, you interact with sales associates, other customers, check-out clerks, and more. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t also happen in digital environments.
Right now, online shopping is a primarily transactional process. You browse, you pick, you click. That’s it. The service aspect we experience in stores is still lacking online. But in the metaverse, efforts to improve CX make a lot of sense. With i-commerce, or immersive and interactive commerce, you will be able to have the same in-person shopping experience but wholly online.
In order to make i-commerce happen, we have to, as retailers, become unified in our approach. While omnichannel service fulfilled its purpose, it’s quickly becoming a thing of the past. Now, as we move to the notion of unified commerce, we must pull all channels together on the back end so that customers can have a truly seamless experience.
The primary concern for many is the misnomer that the metaverse is a fully digital, avatar-engaged world. But that’s an oversimplification. It’s really the unification of the physical and the digital: the phygital.
Another top concern is understanding the investment side of the metaverse, which we’ve seen with NFTs. Some consumers worry about the tangibility — or lack thereof — of such investments. Investing in such a futuristic and conceptual space can seem like a massive gamble.
Moving to the metaverse is challenging, confusing, and it comes with a ton of friction — but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. This past year at Shoptalk, a fellow retail expert shared that the only risk (when it comes to thinking about metaverse investments) is doing nothing.
What Service Could Look Like in the Metaverse
When considering entering the metaverse, retailers should ask themselves: What can we, as retailers, do to make service in the metaverse a positive experience for consumers?
One of the biggest challenges that retailers are facing today is figuring out how to best satisfy a customer, which ultimately depends on the customer’s generation. Our most recent internal report on the expectations between different generations shows that 60% of Gen Z prefers video (as opposed to Boomers at just 19%) and only 24% of Gen Z enjoys the phone as an option for customer service.
When we think about service, it’s about meeting customers where they are. Even if you’re generally questioning the role of the metaverse, think about your primary customers. If Gen Z makes up a significant portion of your client base, you need to understand their CX preferences. Creating spaces that allow for interaction and immersive experiences is crucial.
Talkdesk’s research reveals that the No.1 driver of loyalty in the service space is first issue resolution. That doesn’t change in the metaverse. The fundamentals of service that you’re trying to deliver in your contact center space today are the same ones that you will deliver in the metaverse.
The ability to resolve any problem — whether it’s quick replies, an agent having a “go above and beyond” demeanor, or not having to repeat the same information — remains an evergreen principle and value that retailers should adopt in the metaverse.
While much will likely change in the future of retail, one thing remains a constant — customers crave quality experiences.
— Shannon Flanagan, VP Global Industry Strategy: Retail & Consumer Goods,Talkdesk