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Experiential eCommerce will transform the world of online shopping

Within a decade, shopping will undergo a greater level of change than it has in the past 100 years. Advances in technologies such as machine learning, data analytics, artificial intelligence, VR, augmented reality, and blockchain will make shopping more immersive and personal than ever.

Online shopping today is far from what is possible due to many unexplored possibilities. For instance, you want to buy a shirt or dress online but it is not possible to check the right size for yourself and you end up buying multiple sizes to finally find the best fit; or maybe a mobile phone of a certain colour and specs. What ensues is a nightmare of returns that the e-commerce infrastructure has to bear. 

Off late, the concept of metaverse and NFTs have taken the art world by storm, but what we are not fully aware yet is that there is a fabulous utility that is under works to make online shopping much more interactive and much more like a real shopping experience. In the e-commerce ecosystem, stakeholder industries are spending billions of dollars seeking a solution to current challenges. In a blockchain-enabled metaverse, there might just be one.

Virtual Experiential Store in the Metaverse

A virtual store is a 3D rendition of a retail store much like stepping into a role-playing game such as Fortnite where you assume a role as a gaming avatar and complete tasks thrown at you by the game.

Only in this case, the 3D environment belongs to a brand that has displayed all its products – in digital format– much like their own stores in the real-world.

Here’s what the brand gets: No geographical limitations, unlimited access from anywhere in the world. The ability to sell, launch, conduct a pre-launch test, and more in digital format without the need to create a real product in advance. Create a tailor-made and immersive customer experience for every customer that walks into the store using AI-enabled data. Further, Obtain real-time, immutable data and feedback from users

The big question: What’s in the store for consumers?

Unlimited and anytime access to a global brand store to do window shopping irrespective of the fact that the brand has a real presence in their native country or not. Test, try, and use any digital product displayed there as much as one wants. Users will also be able to provide feedback to the brand on their product without compromising their privacy.

Get a more personal experience without having to step out of your comfort zone. It is heartening to imagine the impact a wonderfully rendered realistic virtual space can have on shoppers who have limitless access to any brand of their choice. 

Metaverse focussed companies like Trace Network Labs are enabling retail brands to create such virtual brand stores in the metaverse. 

How do you access the virtual store? 

You can step into the store as your own digital avatar with a free will to move around as you like and check out the products much like what you do in a physical store. 

It is much like a self created rendition of yourself based on characteristics provided by the metaverse. The avatars in different metaverses are rendered in their own style, however, it is prudent to have a real-looking, life-like avatar to be able to get a true experience. 

Companies like CrazyTalk, Trace Network Labs etc help people to create their life-like avatars that look like them. Experiences are expected to get better in the future with advancement of tech such as AR and VR. We will also see real-time haptic inputs that will induce touch and feel experiences as well. 

Use cases of a Metaverse enabled Virtual Store

Augmented forecast: Businesses currently forecast their store inventory based on either consumer feedback from the stores, from occasional product testing at multiple places, or legacy sales data. In their virtual store in a metaverse, the brands can launch a concept product and get user reactions in real-time, without compromising the user’s identity and without having to manufacture a sample product line. This will augment the forecast of the success of future products that a brand wants to introduce in the market. 

Product Demos: Let us take an example of mobile phones. Before we order a model online, we usually go to a mobile store first and check the model and its specs and only when satisfied buy them online. The virtual brand stores in the metaverse enables the user to “enter” a mobile store, check out the complete workings of the mobile phone within the metaverse – including holding the camera in their avatar’s hand, testing out the camera resolution and more. The product can emit user interaction data in a seamless manner to blockchains for all pre-launch versions. The user can then pick the model based on how the consumers interacted with it. This is something the current e-commerce does not provide. 

Wearable NFTs – Fashion brands are making the most of this technology to create a whole new line of digital clothing that an avatar can try on in the metaverse and buy the Non-fungible token associated with the dress purchased. These NFTs are wearable in the virtual world as a fashion statement by the avatar of the user. Some of these NFTs can be redeemed by a physical product in the real world. 

Immutable Real-time Product Reviews: All reviews of products within a virtual store can be saved on the blockchain. This means that a user review can never be deleted or modified. Moreover, there are mechanisms that can track user feedback in real-time from any part of the world. So a user from India visiting a store in India time zone can check a feedback given in real-time by a buyer of the same product in Australia, irrespective of the time zone. 

NFT based Long term Loyalty: Brands can issue an NFT as a loyalty program that will gamify the engagement with the consumer. Incentivisation of a purchase will bring a new paradigm of consumer belongingness to the brands.


With experiential ecommerce, the consumer’s need is priority, and at the forefront to any shopping experience. With the introduction of an online experience, a brand can drive better conversion and a lasting impression with increased interactions. This will allow brands an opportunity to stand out in a saturated market and induce growth as new-age retailers against their competitors.

Big retail will be driven by the experiences one can provide in the virtual world. All successful brands have created a vibrant presence in the physical as well in the online realm – be it as mobile apps or social media. A virtual store in the metaverse is simply the next level in creating a presence online. Brands that embrace the virtual worlds can set themselves apart by creating a unique immersive environment for their customers.

Brand interaction is changing as they are able to tell a richer story about themselves. Conventional ecommerce websites will give way to a richly detailed, interactive and immersive 3D space that will encourage shoppers to stay longer, purchase more often and benefit long term. 




Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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