Team eCommerce Next interviewed Sara Osborn from Amaze to get more insights on what Paths to Take at the Intersections of Ecommerce, the Metaverse, and NFTs. Following is our interview with her:
What changes will the Metaverse bring to the ecommerce industry?
We are seeing a slew of retailers make strides in the Metaverse, a collective and digital shared space that immerses users in a growing number of virtual engagement models, which is only set to continue to grow. With 41% of consumers saying they’d like to shop in virtual worlds in the future, high-profile retailers are already developing strategies to connect with, and convert shoppers in the Metaverse. Luxury fashion brands including Gucci, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton and Burberry were among the first to experiment with immersive retail experiences in the Metaverse.
As technology improves and investments in Metaverse infrastructure continue, virtual retail experiences will evolve from novel to necessary. It’s important for brands to understand the potential of the Metaverse today so that they can quickly deploy high-impact Metaverse marketing executions when the tech becomes more accessible.
Can you provide specific examples of how ecommerce brands can use the Metaverse to engage with customers?
There are a variety of form factors through which brands can connect with consumers in this new channel. From virtual events and digital apparel giveaways to exclusive access to immersive environments and virtual loyalty rewards, there are a lot of clever ways to create meaningful, personalized experiences. But before jumping head-first into the Metaverse, brands should invest time to understand what types of virtual experiences their customers want.
Non-fungible tokens, aka NFTs, offer an easy entry point into the Metaverse for brands of all sizes. NFTs are records of digital ownership stored in the blockchain. They prove someone’s ownership of a unique digital asset. NFTs are popular because any type of digital asset can be turned into an NFT – including audio files, videos, images, 3D digital art, and more. NFTs are already mainstream, with major houses such as Sotheby’s auctioning NFTs, while brands like Gucci have launched their first digital-only sneaker. With the Metaverse becoming a fertile virtual marketplace, NFTs can become a space for sellers to provide links to assets on the web or mint these assets, opening up a whole new world for ecommerce merchants to connect with consumers.
How do you see sales, marketing and customer engagement strategies changing for ecommerce businesses in the Metaverse?
Ecommerce businesses need to understand the opportunities and challenges of Metaverse. While it provides great new avenues for consumers to interact with brands and browse products, brands face the novel challenge of becoming relevant and adapting to the Metaverse environment. As brands build their presence in this new space, they need to settle in and create frictionless and relevant experiences and integrate supporting designs so consumers can be introduced to the virtual world easily.
The same principles apply in developing and executing smart approaches to captivate and attract customers in any channel, such as optimizing websites for popular mediums like in mobile-optimized pages and integrating immersive assets such as AR (augmented reality) that help consumers experiment with the product into their shopping experiences. Particularly as Metaverse shopping is going to enable consumers to “walk” around a store, it will be imperative to truly bridge the divide between the immersiveness of physical retail and the ease and convenience of online shopping. Studies show that 70% of consumers rate the ability to try on, touch, and see physical products as their favorite part of in-store experience. With the nearing advent of Metaverse, brands must prepare for where consumers are congregating next to ensure a quality experience and secure increased conversions through curated consumer-focused designs.
Can you share more about Amaze’s partnership with EverX and Ozone Metaverse?
Amaze partnered with Ozone and EverX to accelerate immersive, virtual ecommerce experiences and serve as examples of Amaze’s continual investment in the future of ecommerce. Our aim is to empower retailers with specialized design software that integrates with 3D, virtual shopping experiences.
The Ozone Metaverse partnership will enable retailers to build virtual shopping experiences cost effectively, and at scale. Amaze’s platform, once integrated with Ozone Metaverse’s proprietary engine and composable NFT stack, will programmatically load critical inventory and product details into an immersive 3D format for retailers looking to expand into virtual shopping experiences via the web, mobile, and VR.
Meanwhile, Amaze’s partnership with leading blockchain development firm EverX will bring NFT technology to merchants, enabling brands to make the transition into the world of NFTs and explore new ways to optimize customer engagement. Amaze will be one of the first ecommerce portals to help brands transition into the world of NFTs, enabling users to mint and sell these via the Amaze platform, and giving merchants a new revenue stream.
What other ecommerce trends does Amaze anticipate will take off in the next year or two?
While consumers continue to shop on mobile, Amaze also sees that they are shopping in another emerging space: social media. To take advantage of social commerce, social ecommerce experiences need to possess seamless transition and quality aesthetics between brands’ sites and social media platforms.
Social commerce has already shown promise and is expected to grow even further. In 2022, social commerce sales in the U.S. are estimated to be around $45 billion. As the influence of social media continues to rise, this number is expected to reach about $56 billion next year and a staggering $79 billion in 2025.
With most people spending an average of two hours and 25 minutes daily scrolling down apps, it’s crucial that brands are focused on continuing to find ways to engage and convert customers in the most captivating ways possible. One rising trend to catch consumer attention is live-streaming shopping updates and product reviews on social media, as it creates an interactive and personable exchange between a consumer and the product in real-time.
For brands who have not yet launched into the Metaverse, what other tactics in the overall ecommerce industry can brands take advantage of to create more engaging shopping experiences that increase conversions?
Innovations like the Metaverse open new opportunities for brands, but the Metaverse is still nascent and brands are just beginning to toy with the idea of being present in this emerging space.
We know consumers want ease-of-use and trust when it comes to shopping for products and services. When it comes to mobile ecommerce designs, one rewarding and relatively simple investment that brands can focus on is integrating 3D images and video to their sites. Such assets make exploring sites easier to understand and more entertaining as consumers are immersed more in what the brand is selling and what it stands for. With more engaging and navigable ecommerce experiences, consumers are bound to return to brand sites as loyal customers.
Sara Osborn is the VP of Partnerships and Integrations at Amaze, a mobile ecommerce design platform helping anyone easily market and sell products online. She is leading the company’s cross-functional teams to build and expand Amaze’s partnership program and strategic product integrations.
Originally posted on Ecommerce Next.