The metaverse – a collection of virtual 3D environments using Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and blockchain technology – has recently garnered serious attention from companies hoping to reap the benefits of early adoption. As brands turn their attention toward the metaverse, they will be challenged to translate their existing retail strategies to an entirely new shopping landscape. The pandemic accelerated the ongoing shift from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce, but the onset of the metaverse requires an even more dramatic transition for small and large businesses alike.
While ecommerce has traditionally been dominated by the big players, the novelty of the metaverse means small businesses have a much better chance of establishing a sizeable foothold of their own. As the next stage of ecommerce, virtual storefronts in the metaverse will soon become a necessity for brands of all shapes and sizes. QReal is positioned to help both major corporations and small businesses construct, design, and populate their retail presence in the metaverse.
As expected, the biggest players in Web 2.0 retail will have a starting advantage in Web 3.0. Samsung recently debuted a virtual store in Decentraland replicating their flagship 837 store in New York City, illustrating the extent to which major tech corporations are already on the ball. Offering a multi-sectional "experiential playground" and quest-based NFT rewards for visitors, the Samsung 837X virtual store is setting an example for other businesses thanks to its antecedence. The store's amenities, such as a resident DJ and a raffle offering Samsung branded swag for users’ avatars, illustrate the advantages in branding and resources an established player enjoys toward building their presence in the metaverse.
Transitioning their commercial operations to the metaverse is not simply a tech savvy move for major retailers. As the metaverse becomes more fully realized, a virtual retail presence will likely become a non-negotiable marketing necessity. Early evidence already testifies to the efficacy of XR marketing and retailing: products featured with AR content have a 94% higher conversion rate than those without, and AR-powered retailing has already boosted some brands' conversion rates above 250%. These results are fueling a rush toward metaverse retailing as more brands realize how VR and AR can fundamentally change how consumers interact with brands and conduct their shopping. These trends will only intensify as younger consumers come of age in the digital marketplace, highlighting the importance of brands planting their feet early in metaverse retailing.
Despite the inherent advantages they have transitioning into the metaverse, major tech corporations still need developers, 3D modelers, and asset design studios to execute on their plans. A virtual store needs to be constructed, the interior of the store needs to be designed, and the goods within the store need to be modeled and rendered. QReal is positioned to carry out these services and more, given our substantial background in 3D modeling, asset design, and AR white labeling. Consumers will be quick to notice disparities in quality between different metaverse retailers, and QReal's expertise with photogrammetry enables the creation of high fidelity 3D models which distinguish our clients from their competitors. With plenty of experience creating high quality 3D assets for major corporations like Snapchat, Chanel, and Walmart, we're capable of designing and implementing all aspects of metaverse retail storefronts.
While major tech corporations are establishing firm branded presences in the metaverse, companies outside of the established tech juggernauts can also plant their feet in the construction of the metaverse. Unlike buildings in real life, architecture in the metaverse has the capacity for iterative design changes, presenting a branding opportunity for small businesses unavailable to them in real life.
Firstly, metaverse architects aren't designing buildings in the metaverse with longevity in mind. Digital buildings don't need a sturdy foundation to stand the test of time, nor are the aesthetic elements of a building necessarily permanent. "Because it's not there for 100 years…the visual language of a building can change so quickly," observesUntitled, XYZ, a well-known metaverse architect who fully pivoted from his career as a traditional architect toward the metaverse. From a design standpoint, metaverse architects can choose trendiness over timelessness, knowing that building exteriors and interiors can be easily adjusted down the road.
The fact that buildings can change with only a few mouse clicks creates a substantial branding opportunity. Think Los Angeles's Staples Center transitioning to the Crypto.com Arena, but without the decades-long contracts and massive rebranding hassle. Buildings in the metaverse can adjust their branding heraldry on the fly, allowing for briefer branding contracts than in real life. The flexibility of architectural branding in the metaverse creates a space for smaller companies to stake their claim alongside the major tech corporations. Even big players like Epic Games acknowledge that they won't have a vice grip over the space, asEpic CEO Tim Sweeney emphasized that the "Metaverse does not come from any industry giant, but the crystallization of the co-creation of millions of people.”
While QReal has plenty of experience working with major corporations, our white labeling services are available to brands of all shapes and sizes. Small businesses can also create a brand presence in the metaverse using retail outposts built by our expert team of developers. Even without the massive resources and name recognition of the big players, small businesses can establish a foothold in the new marketplace and reap all the same benefits as early adopters of metaverse retailing.
Establishing brand presence in the metaverse will eventually necessitate more than a well-designed virtual storefront, though. Companies currently operate corporate accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and other social media platforms to provide customer outreach and communicate brand identity. The metaverse will eventually feature these extensions of brand building as well, materialized as virtual spaces in the metaverse. QReal is already prepared to construct and design these auxiliary brand spaces alongside virtual storefronts.
QReal is fully equipped to help brands transition into metaverse retailing. While ecommerce has several inherent advantages over brick-and-mortar shopping – convenience, accessibility, social distancing among others – there are still notable shortcomings to online shopping. For example, ecommerce sites can’t take advantage of tried-and-true retail strategies like doorbusters, visualized scarcity, and impulse purchases native to in-person shopping. In this regard, metaverse retail is the best of both worlds: shopping in the metaverse offers all the conveniences of ecommerce while also allowing retailers to design physical storefronts with classic retail strategies.