A question concerning many companies in 2022 is this: Is the Metaverse really going to take off and, further, what can I do to ensure my business isn't left behind?
In a week where 55,000 deeds to virtual land were sold by an NFT company for a combined total of $320 million, the question has never felt more pertinent. Whether you’ve just built an ecommerce website or are making your first attempt to digitally market your business, it only feels like a matter of time before the worlds of virtual retail and real estate will be as relevant as their physical counterparts.
Even if you’re not ready to sell virtual products like NFTs on your online store just yet, getting clued up on the Metaverse whilst it's still in its infancy may pay dividends in the future.
The Metaverse is Not a ‘Fad'
Surveys consistently show that business leaders with influence aren’t taking the Metaverse buzz lightly – JP Morgan recently declared it a $1 trillion dollar industry.
Business leaders across the board are excited. According to a recent WestMonroe survey of 150 executives working in a variety of different industries, 88% said they saw some or significant future business value in the metaverse for their industry in the next one to five years, whilst a very similar percentage (86%) said the same for their company specifically.
What’s more, the World Economic Forum found that 42% of global executives think that the metaverse will be “transformational” whilst 71% said it would have a positive impact on their businesses.
There should be no mad rush to panic stations just yet however – a Gartner survey from February of this year revealed that more than a third of consumers have never heard of the metaverse. But business leaders that aren’t considering the possibilities that could come with the shift to more virtual spaces – and think the whole thing will just collapse – are becoming increasingly sparse.
Keeping Your Ear to the Ground
For those working in retail – online and offline – you’re going to be hearing a lot more about the metaverse over the next few years, whether you like it or not.
Analogously to the way many businesses have made their stock available to purchase online as well as in-store over the past decade, virtual versions of clothing are already becoming available for metaverse avatars in non-physical shops located within virtual spaces.
This wouldn’t be a world away from what you can find in contemporary iterations of many video games, which let players do just that. There have even been suggestions that these virtual versions could be used as proof-of-purchase needed to collect the physical copy. This is just one example of how a fixture of the everyday “real-world” economy – buying clothes – can easily be replicated in the metaverse.
At the moment, a good question to ask is: “what are the biggest brands in your industry currently doing to cement their position in the virtual world?”
Right now is a good moment to start investigating what the biggest brands in your industry currently doing to cement their position in the virtual world. A huge number of large businesses with the capital to expand into the metaverse immediately (Nike, Salesforce, and Gucci, for example) have done so. In terms of inspiration, then, there's quite a lot to choose from.
A subsequent question that would flow naturally from this sort of competitor analysis would relate to how your brand will operate in the Metaverse. A year ago, this question may seem like a waste of time to answer – but thinking about it now could mean you’re much better placed to adapt to rapidly increasing periods of time people are spending in virtual spaces.
The Price of Virtual Land Continues to Rise
Along with virtual retail opportunities, the virtual land market has exploded over the past year or two and plots are already being sold for eye-watering prices.
This week, the Bored Ape Yacht Club – one of the most well-known collections of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) – raised $320 million in the largest NFT mint in history. The importance of this deal can’t be understated – the NFTs were used as deeds to virtual land in Otherside, a $450 million-funded Metaverse created by Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Although a lot of land has been purchased by celebrities or “those in the know,” the money being thrown at metaverse real estate illustrates how serious people are about it.
Giving the Metaverse the Respect it Deserves
You’re probably not going to be buying up virtual land tomorrow, but retailers should be encouraged to start treating the metaverse like social media in the early days – a new and novel frontier, but one with almost unlimited potential for marketing, advertising, and raising brand awareness.
If your business isn't trading online yet, building your own online store should be your first point of order. But after you're settled in and selling products at a healthy rate, getting into the habit of exploring Metaverse-based opportunities now will prepare you to take calculated risks and investments in digital spaces in the next few years.