There’s a lot of hype about the metaverse right now, and you may be wondering if it’s real and whether it will impact your business.
A 2022 McKinsey survey reports that 95% of business leaders expect the metaverse to have a significant — and positive — impact on their business in the next five to 10 years. The management consulting firm estimates the metaverse could generate $5 trillion in value by 2030.
Whether you believe the hype or not, the metaverse is something every business leader should be aware of and evaluate the potential impact on their organization.
So, What Is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is the next evolution of the internet that combines digital and physical lives. You might want to think of it as a 3D model of the internet. It’s not so much a technology, but rather how we interact with technology.
It’s typically portrayed as a digital world where users interact with others through avatars. These avatars can visit different locations, take virtual trips, or buy and trade virtual goods. Already we’re seeing examples where video games and reality are blending, such as real-life artists holding real-time concerts that game players in Fortnite can attend virtually.
Virtual reality lets you take 3D tours of places or properties. Augmented reality applications let you see how products look in your home before buying.
Beyond these grand visions, however, the metaverse can have a significant impact on small and medium-sized businesses.
How the Metaverse Impacts Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
We’ve seen a constant evolution in how the internet has impacted small and medium-sized businesses. In the early days, having an internet presence gave businesses a way to showcase what they do and what they provide. It allowed B2B and B2C customers to research options and make product decisions.
As more people shifted to eCommerce and online transactions, these businesses found new sources of revenue but also had to adapt to a new world of Buy Online/Pick Up in Store, Buy Online/Return in Store, and Buy Online/Ship from Store.
As the internet and technology continue to evolve, these smaller businesses will also need to adapt. The metaverse will provide more channels for marketing and distribution than ever before. Just as many retailers have their own website and also sell through Amazon or other online marketplaces, the metaverse will provide virtual locations for storefronts. Think of it as a virtual mall with multiple shops or an online gallery featuring multiple brands and stores in a specific niche.
Already, consumers are seeing augmented reality, such as virtual dressing rooms where shoppers can see how they would look wearing an outfit. The metaverse will provide more opportunities for personalization and customization.
Users will be able to interact directly with products and brands. Just as you have store clerks to answer consumer questions and help guide purchasing decisions, you may have people managing online avatars that provide similar services in the metaverse.
Large brands are already testing the waters. Smaller businesses may want to keep an eye on how some of these larger companies are finding new revenue opportunities. A few examples include:
- Nike built NIKELAND on Roblox, a virtualized world where gamers can interact and test their skills and, of course, buy Nike products.
- Gucci created custom virtual handbags that can be added to avatars, some of which sell for thousands of dollars and are bought and sold as investments.
- Forever 21 is letting consumers design and open their own metaverse stores, even hiring real people to run them.
How to Get Started with the Metaverse
While smaller businesses may not have the budget or resources to create these types of virtual worlds, there are lessons to be learned. As consumers become more accustomed to interacting with brands in this manner, it will be necessary to compete and offer a robust virtual experience.
Adding metaverse-enabling tech such as 3D, AR, or VR technology to websites may be a good place to start. If your business has limited resources, you can leverage tools from vendors such as Meta (Facebook), Shopify, and others that have begun to roll them out.
Regardless, it is important to begin evaluating the impact of the metaverse now. Companies regularly do competitive analyses to make sure they are meeting consumer needs and positioning their products or service versus their competitors. Small and medium-sized businesses need to do their due diligence to understand the potential impact of the metaverse and how it may affect them.
If you’re trying to figure out how your business fits into the metaverse or would like to explore better ways to market your business, contact Dream Local Digital today for a FREE marketing consultation.