This past decade – and especially the last two years – has been challenging for retailers in the physical world, including those on the UK’s high streets.
Consumers no longer rely on places called ‘high streets’, depriving many brick-and-mortar brands from what was traditionally their primary sales channel. Although opening online channels enabled a larger market, the landscape is amazingly fierce, particularly with the likes of Amazon offering just about anything a shopper could want.
For certain verticals, such as supermarkets and food retailers, shifting from a physical to an online place has been challenging, with intermediaries enforcing competition, diluting focus, and competing for consumer and market awareness.
Then came the need for brands to bridge the divide between these physical and online places, with many introducing curbside pickup, touchless order technology, self-serve solutions, and more. Sure, these have been great ways to deliver what consumers want and have opened new avenues of selling, but they’re not free.
Well, buckle up and gear up for an exciting ride, because another change is coming – the Metaverse – and it’s gaining momentum. But rather than be wary of it, UK retailers can look to the Metaverse as a way to reset, revamp and reshape the retail game in their favour by creating innovative and “other worldly” customer experiences in a new and unexplored place.
Why it’s gaining speedIn his 1992 novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson coined the term Metaverse as a computer-generated universe. Fast forward 30 years. Today’s Metaverse is virtual place that enables users to duplicate items existing in the physical world. Its popularity, while growing, really took off in 2021 when Facebook changed its name to Meta, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg receiving plenty of press surrounding company efforts to build the Metaverse.
For UK retailers, the possibilities the Metaverse brings are endless.
For example, through multiplayer game creation platform Roblox, Gucci Garden visitors can explore the virtual place and purchase Gucci goods for some big bucks. A digital version of the company’s Dionysys bag sold there for about $4,115.
Teen fashion retailer Forever21 uses the same platform, allowing players to build and customize their own stores, select locations, perform real-life jobs like stocking inventory or helping customers and so on. This enables the brand to reimagine customer experience and foster relationships with young fashionistas and gamers.
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