The emergence of a parallel universe – what the metaverse is and what opportunities it holds.

Since Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg renamed his company FACEBOOK INC to META PLATTFORMS INC and announced that he had laid the foundation for a whole “metaverse”, the English term “metaverse” has been on everyone’s lips. But what exactly is it all about? Which new doors are opened for companies by such a digital universe? In this blog post, you will learn everything about the background as well as the ideas and perspectives of Mark Zuckerberg and his Metaverse and how companies like DOUGLAS can bring their eCommerce to a new level in the Metaverse. Have fun reading!

The Origins of the “Metaverse”

Metaverse – a term that has become increasingly important in recent months. The reason for this is none other than FACEBOOK founder and visionary Mark Zuckerberg. With the renaming of his company FACEBOOK INC to META PLATFORMS INC, which in addition to Facebook also includes the social media platform INSTAGRAM and the instant messaging app WHATSAPP, the US American has set a ball rolling. For many, it may seem as if Zuckerberg is the one who established the term metaverse. But is that entirely true?

Although it may indeed seem that way to some, he is not the first to come up with the idea of a digital universe. As early as 1992, the US author Neal Stephenson came up with the idea of a parallel world that takes place exclusively in digital spaces in his novel “Snow Crash”. Countless game developers, however, have also been one step ahead of the FACEBOOK founder: Every day, thousands of gamers plunge into digital worlds to experience adventures online with other people. So, Mark Zuckerberg has merely taken an idea here and expanded it and – most importantly – realized it in such a way that you can actually build a second life in digital worlds.

What exactly is the “metaverse”?

The problems of the real world are not supposed to play a role in Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of the Metaverse for now. Rather, the visionary describes his idea of a digital parallel world within Web 3.0 as the perfect environment that can be defined by individuals or a group of users, such as a company.

What is clear is that Zuckerberg’s metaverse should be virtually indistinguishable from the real world. Every person is supposed to have an avatar with which he or she is supposed to move through a realistic world – in many different worlds within the Metaverse, there are houses, streets, cafés, schools and companies, just like in the real world. At the same time, the ecosystem is meant to be open and transparent. Examples of Metaverse-like digital worlds include “Roblox”, “Decentraland” and “The Otherside”.

The metaverse is no longer simply about consuming digital content. Rather, one can imagine a digital world in which interaction is very important. There will be universities in the metaverse, companies offering jobs in the digital world, clubs, concerts and much more. The goal is for users to build a second life and make new contacts.

So, the idea that one’s entire life could shift to the Internet is not so far-fetched, if you let Zuckerberg’s ideas and visions run through your head. Working on the Internet, going to parties on the Internet or even having a relationship on the Internet. For some, the Metaverse offers the opportunity to build the life of their dreams.

The shopping experience in the Metaverse

For us at DMS, what is particularly interesting about the idea of a metaverse is, of course, the expansion of our eCommerce channel. As a retailer that has built up a relevant online business over the past few years, DOUGLAS is playing right at the front of the “eCommerce game”. For a long time now, the DOUGLAS online store has no longer been considered a pure perfumery. Rather, it combines a drugstore, a fashion store, a jeweler and a pharmacy in a unique experience. When shopping in the online store, DOUGLAS customers benefit from a wide range of products and many advantages that make shopping a real experience.

If we take up the idea of the Metaverse again at this point, there are many opportunities to further build an online business here. According to Zuckerberg, in his digital universe, shopping should be the same as in the real world. Customers could theoretically look forward to virtual retail spaces that open up many possibilities:

  • Sales areas in sizes that would hardly or not at all be feasible in real life.
  • Digital workshops with subsequent sales consultations without logistical or hygienic obstacles.
  • An (almost) real shopping experience around the clock, 365 days a year, regardless of location.

The list can go on and on, because for online retailers, the Metaverse offers countless advantages that would be almost impossible to implement in a real world. Jan Gutkuhn, Director Web3 at DEPT®, told us what these are and how Douglas Marketing Solutions could realize them in an exchange on this topic.

What opportunities does the metaverse offer?

According to Jan Gutkuhn, DEPT®, the best thing about virtual worlds and metaverses is the great freedom in terms of product and brand presentation as well as the creative freedom with which a completely new experience can be created for users. Young users in particular are spending more and more time online and are difficult to reach or inspire with traditional media such as linear TV, e-mail and, in some cases, classic social media.

A virtual experience offers the ideal basis for creating an experience, consulting and sales space entirely according to one’s own ideas. The retailer is free to decide how to present which products and services, and since it is a virtual representation, just about anything is possible – whether they are to be shown oversized, in motion, or in different scenarios.

What results can retailers achieve for their customers using the Metaverse?

The metaverse obviously offers a wide range of opportunities and benefits. However, DEPT® believes it is particularly valuable to be able to engage with new audiences and learn about their behavior and needs. Other benefits that can be achieved as a retailer include:

  • Brand Building,
  • Brand Awareness,
  • B2B collaboration potential and monetization, as well as
  • Press Buzz and Visibility.

What are the future prospects for retailers in the metaverse?

For Jan Gutkuhn, the metaverse is clearly an important building block for a successful eCommerce, CRM and branding strategy of the future and should by no means be ignored by retailers and brands. He told us about the following prospects in the Metaverse:

“Even if it will still take a few years before it will be completely normal for users to move around in immersive 3D worlds, purchase digital goods or express themselves via avatars, many courageous brands are already testing initial use cases – always with the aim of tapping into young target groups and positioning themselves as innovative first movers. In this context, the gaming industry in particular will become increasingly interesting for brands: The game platform Roblox alone will record around 200 million “Daily Active Users” in 2021, and certainly some new metaverse platforms will also be able to show similar figures in the coming years. So, product placements in virtual space will become the advertising space of the future.”

Community building via NFTs will also become more and more part of the marketing mix of many companies in the near future – in a sense, this is how new loyalty concepts will emerge. Particularly promising here are concepts in which ownership of an NFT is linked to added value in the physical world: exclusive events, products or VIP experiences at the POS, for example.

The virtual goods sector is already growing strongly and has received an exponential push from the pandemic. In 2020, people in Germany spent 1.1 trillion euros on in-game purchases (PC & console). This is an increase of over 100% compared to 2019 (Source: Statista). In 2021, spending on virtual goods was around $110 trillion. That’s double what it was in 2015, with spending expected to reach $135 trillion by 2024 (Source: MyKinsey).

Good to know: DEPT® has been organizing the Meta Festival since 2021, an event around the topic of Web3 and Metaverse. Here, participants have the opportunity to learn from leading brands, Web3 innovators and technologists and network with each other on a virtual playground during the event. All they need to participate is an internet-enabled device and a stable internet connection.

What challenges does the Metaverse pose for online commerce?

For Jan Gutkuhn, the immense difference between the generations clearly tops the list.

“On the one hand, there are the younger generations (GenZ and GenAlpha) who have grown up with mobile gaming, augmented reality and TikTok, and for whom the new, immersive web is a logical progression. And on the other side, all the older generations who are comfortable with the standard of the web today (email, Facebook and the like) and for whom it might be quite a stretch to go along with this very disruptive and futuristic iteration of the web.”

The Metaverse – our conclusion.

Especially when you factor in the events of the last two years with some lockdowns, you clearly see a lot of benefits in continuing to expand eCommerce and connect it to the digital space. As an online retailer, an optimized shopping experience on the web can lead to many benefits through the use of virtual sales rooms, real consultations, virtual styling, etc. Customers may not get the same experience in metaverses as they would in brick-and-mortar retail, but it can be a useful addition – especially if you want to reach new target groups. If you impress them with a unique presence in the metaverse, you can expect to increase awareness and sales. Additionally, the importance of virtual goods is growing. The expansion of a digital universe holds different opportunities for many different industries and eCommerce to bring online commerce to a new maximum.

Accordingly, it is foreseeable that the metaverse will become increasingly important in the coming years and more online retailers will expand their presence in Web 3.0. But how exactly this new online shopping experience will look like and how the ideas and future prospects can be integrated into everyday life is still written in the stars – nevertheless, we at DMS are looking forward to raising your brand to a new level in the future with the help of the Metaverse.

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