Consumer Are Ready To Shop In The Metaverse This Holiday Season – Forbes
Consumers are embracing new technologies this holiday season according to Accenture’s new Holiday … [+]
Accenture’s Annual Holiday Shopping Survey said that for the 2022 holiday season, consumers are exploring new ways of shopping, from live streaming to virtual worlds in the metaverse and buying and Non Fungal Transactions (NFT).
The survey said that more than 30% of consumers plan to shop in the metaverse or buy a virtual experience this holiday season. More than 67% of retail executives said their company is starting to experiment and explore how the metaverse and virtual products and services can add to their businesses.
Kicking off 2021, Selfridges launched a live-stream shopping show in Cantonese. The store had around 1,800 NFTs available for purchase from 28 January 20212, ranging in price from £2,000 to £100,000. And in September 2022, Bloomingdale’s celebrated its 150th birthday by opening new virtual doors in the metaverse.
Jill Standish, Accenture’s Global Head of Retail, said that retailers are shifting to technology to engage with consumers this season because consumers expect to move freely and seamlessly across both digital and non-digital channels at every point in the buying journey.
“In response, retailers have been busy blending online and offline capabilities to lower operational costs and delight shoppers with convenience, competitive pricing, and creative and engaging experiences,” said Standish. “With marketplaces being increasingly fragmented, retailers are looking to tech-led innovation to reach and engage consumers and their employees too.”
According to Standish, some of this is due to the accelerator effect of the pandemic, which means more consumers have higher expectations of retail.
“They want seamless, personalized, omnichannel experiences,” said Standish. “Now, retailers are challenged to create, shape, and market products, services, and experiences that can move between the physical and virtual worlds. And they need to do this while coordinating a network of experts, skills, and technologies to help make it happen.”
Standish says that consumers demanded a seamless experience across all channels, from brick and mortar to digital commerce. “With their buying habits liable to keep shifting quickly, now more than ever, retailers need a highly attuned understanding of consumer needs,” said Standish
“This means investing in a solid data foundation, machine learning capabilities, and analytics so that they can rapidly and repeatedly reset the business as the market changes,” adds Standish.
“Ambitious retail enterprises will shape new physical and digital experiences, virtual and physical worlds co-populated by people and artificial intelligence (AI), industries made possible by new computing capabilities,” said Standish.
Standish says that live streaming directly from stores is an excellent example of retailers using technology to blend online and offline capabilities. “Already, around half of retailers in Accenture’s survey said they’re planning to use a store as a live-streaming studio or to create a virtual shopping space specially designed for the holiday season,” said Standish.
Standish says that while commercial applications are still in their infancy, there is a lot of excitement about the metaverse. “By allowing consumers to move seamlessly between two different realities, the metaverse is set to transform how retailers and brands interact with consumers,” said Standish.
“We think of the metaverse as a continuum of immersive experiences. In many ways, it may resemble the early days of online or mobile commerce,” said Standish. “Retailers are experimenting across the board with live-stream shopping events, virtual digital stores and other experiences that can be accessed from a smartphone, a tablet, or, for those who choose a VR headset.
“We’re already seeing luxury retailers and brands innovating in the metaverse, like the Gucci Garden on Roblox,” said Standish. “Their virtual garden exhibition highlights how the metaverse can recreate the shopping experience. And, Gucci’s digital offerings could only be purchased for a limited time giving users an understanding of scarcity.”
In early 2022, Heineken launched its new Heineken Silver variant on the Decentraland metaverse. “This created a virtual bar where visitors could ‘taste’ the new beer and sample pixelated lobster and caviar – except, of course, they couldn’t,” said Standish. “The launch was merely a precursor of the real-life unveiling of Heinekin Silver that followed in April 2022.”
Standish says the metaverse can also help retailers build loyalty through experiences beyond the transactional nature of just buying a product. “An example is creating a personalized experience by offering a shopping event where shoppers can interact with a brand ambassador and immediately step into a virtual dressing room where they can try something on, add it to their cart, and check out,” said Standish.
Standish says that even though consumers welcome technology, brick-and-mortar stores remain essential to the consumer’s holiday shopping experience.
The Holiday survey found that over 51% plan to do most of their holiday shopping in-store this 2022 season. “Innovative retailers are also thinking creatively about store layouts and making better use of digital technologies to help their employees deliver superior experiences,” said Standish. “Creating a live-stream studio to support e-commerce sales is one example where retailers blend use technology to make their physical stores work harder.”
Standish says that inflation and continued uncertainty bring new challenges for retailers. “The global challenges of the last two years continue to drive a bigger, better and bolder evolution of retail. If necessity was the catalyst, technology is the enabler.”
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