Retailers sense first mover advantage as 1-in-4 set to enter the metaverse
Over a quarter of British retailers are eyeing entry into the metaverse, according to new research from consulting firm Baringa.
The findings indicate that shoppers will soon be putting on headsets and using virtual or augmented reality as part of the retail experience either in-store or online.
Tech giants such as Meta are making huge strategic investments in the hope that people will increasingly opt to use a virtual reality (VR)-centered form of the internet known as the metaverse.
Baringa’s research, conducted among retail industry specialists, suggest that many in the sector believe strongly in the potential of the technology, with one in four retailers saying they intend to roll out “some form” of metaverse or virtual reality project within the next year.
“We are likely living within a new wave of technological disruption. While we cannot yet be sure what changes tech such as the metaverse, web 3.0 or other digital platforms will make to business, what is certain is that firms who do not embrace these new technologies risk being left behind,” said Melissa Bailey, a partner at Baringa.
She added: “That is the key reason why so many companies are already investing in technology most consumers may not have encountered yet.”
Retail companies favour VR as a way of improving customers’ shopping experience, with one third saying this is the area they plan to deploy it in. 8% of those surveyed said they hope to leverage VR to increase advertising opportunities.
“We are likely to see an initial clutch of modest projects, looking at areas such as company training programmes delivered by VR; virtual 3D shops available for users of existing VR and AR platforms; and more programmes which allow you to see what a new sofa would look like within your existing flat.”
Bailey stated that retailers believe such pilot schemes “confer on them a first mover advantage” – “not only will they corner the market with early adopters, but they will practice and perfect the technology, ready to swiftly scale it up as and when the metaverse becomes embedded more widely in society.”
Baringa’s research also indicates that those businesses saying they will enter the metaverse intend to do so quickly. A quarter (26%) of respondents said that they intend to use virtual reality and the same number (26%) said that they intend to do so in the next 12 months. 13% said they would use virtual reality technology at some point in the next five years.
“The metaverse is an exciting and lucrative opportunity for those who can get it right. It isn’t without its challenges though. Developing a virtual world that works across platforms – an ecommerce site, to Facebook, to a news publisher and back again – is some way off,” said Bailey.
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