Industry Trends

Retail’s Next Frontier: Where User Experience Meets the Metaverse

Heidi Elgaard
September 5, 2023

The internet reached massive popularity in the 90s, but has been around much longer. The birthdate of the web as we know it ranges from 1969 to 1983, depending on who you ask. Like most mature technologies and systems, the internet must evolve or be replaced by something new.

Innovators have their eyes on developments such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), enhanced Zoom (think holograms), social media avatars, digital currencies, and other technologies that blur the lines between what is real and the virtual world. They are chasing the dream of the “metaverse,” while still trying to define exactly what it is.

According to Wired magazine: “…the term [metaverse] doesn't really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad shift in how we interact with technology.”

And according to Forbes: “The metaverse refers to online experiences that are highly immersive, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and interactive video. It's essentially taking the online experience to the next level, creating an entire world where people can socialize, conduct business and experience immersive entertainment.”

Regardless of which definition you prefer, the metaverse is elusive enough to remain aspirational for most businesses.

So how do retailers move toward the future while still hitting sales targets today? For retailers who depend on online or omnichannel sales, waiting for clarity on the metaverse isn’t an option. Instead, they need to embrace real technologies that are scalable and can make a tangible impact on the shopping experience for their customers — regardless of channel, device or location.

With this in mind, forward-thinking retailers are already moving away from standard product listing pages toward Virtual Try-On (VTO) features, room visualizers, virtual 3D, virtual sales consultants, and more. Traditional e-commerce sites are quickly being replaced or upstaged by immersive shopping technologies that deliver “wow” user experiences.

While today’s immersive shopping technologies may be just a doorway to the metaverse, they have one massive advantage for retailers: they deliver a highly engaging customer experience that will help you succeed today while paving the way for the future. Here are a few other advantages:

Immersive shopping data speaks for itself.

As you might recall in our recent post, Immersive Shopping by the Numbers, we have seen real clients improve key metrics including Conversion Rates (increase of 200%), Revenue Per Visitor (78.13% increase) to Return Rates (15% reduction). While every result from every client A/B test can’t be the same, the one consistent outcome is that the numbers and data always point to a strong financial benefit for incorporating an immersive shopping experience utilizing the technologies available today.

It’s not as expensive as you think.

Professional product photography sessions and 3D model creation can cost thousands of dollars for as few as five products. For much larger catalogs, costs skyrocket and put pressure on sales numbers to recoup costs. Yet, new technological approaches that create virtual 3D images require advanced technological skills and artificial intelligence (AI) that may not be accessible to every brand or online retailer. The most affordable option is working with a plug-and-play software solution like Tangiblee that can be incorporated into e-commerce websites with a simple code snippet.

It’s scalable enough for today’s enterprises.

By utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automating the process of virtual 3D model creation, Tangiblee successfully processes catalog sizes of up to 100,000 SKUs — not only at a fraction of the cost of 3D model creation or studio photography, but much faster, too.

The vision of the metaverse is exciting, but its lack of clarity and consistency means that it isn’t ready for prime-time in the retail industry. If you are a brand executive looking to increase online and omnichannel sales revenue this quarter, you need a scalable, enterprise-ready, immersive shopping solution that’s quick and easy to deploy. That’s the promise of the future…and it’s here today.

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