How e-commerce brands can arm themselves for Metaverse

As far as digital user experiences are concerned – especially in e-commerce – the bar will be significantly higher in the future, especially with the vision of Metaverse. None of this is a dream of the future, but it is a scenario that retailers can actually prepare for today.

Written by Dominik Angerer, Co-Founder and CEO of Storyblok

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, marketing experts in particular are skeptical. The promises were great, but so far there have been very few use cases where using immersive technologies has been really compelling. This could now change once and for all: tech giants Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are all working on large-scale projects, and the keyword is “metaverse”: the convergence of 3D worlds in a shared virtual experience.

A look at the facts also shows that consumers crave the 3D world of e-commerce: Google found that 66 percent of consumers are interested in using augmented reality as a shopping aid. The Shopify survey also showed that interactions with products embedded in a 3D or augmented reality environment double the number of products displayed in classic digital ways.

The hype is real – and no e-branding that wants to position itself sustainably in the future should ignore it. Here is a roadmap that will facilitate your brand’s journey into the Metaverse.

1. Create technical framework conditions

If you want to cross the threshold into the immersive world of e-commerce, you must realize beforehand that development teams and content managers in particular must adapt new skills in order to eventually be able to create true 3D digital experiences. Because 3D content development is more reminiscent of games than previously familiar digital content creation.

In order to select the right software tools, you must first clarify the hardware for which you want to create 3D experiences: Do your customers primarily use computers, smartphones, tablets, or a headset like the Oculus Quest? Once these questions are answered, solutions like Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore offer universal tools to start developing AR content.

And a short trip into the galaxy of developers: with the WebXR Device API, there is an open standard with the JavaScript API, the use of which allows immersive experiences in the browser. Other frameworks and platforms such as A-Frame, React 360 or Amazon Sumerian simplify working with WebXR.

2. Provide suitable creative assets

Long text blocks in a 3D environment? This does not add. We’re talking about visual experiences here, so brands should focus on creating content that is pleasing to the eye and grabs the user’s attention. What works today on a traditional website would look unnatural in the world of 3D content.

It is critical to provide and create the appropriate 3D elements. What high-resolution photos and assets do you need? Is it possible to add videos to your 3D experience? Are 360 ​​degree experiences an option? Should your customers only be able to consume or are there options for interaction? You should also think of the audio factor as an essential part of 3D worlds from the start.

3. The content matches the user’s requirements

Despite all the euphoria about the Metaverse, we must not forget that consumers’ requirements for consuming 3D content are completely different. Not every consumer will own the latest and greatest device let alone 5G coverage. A factor not to be underestimated, especially with the immersive content.

A millisecond latency might go unnoticed on a regular website, but in a virtual or augmented reality environment, the putative experiences can become torture. Therefore, try to optimize your content so that it offers the highest possible quality with a reasonable file size. When an experiment struggles with loading a lot of content at once, it’s best to create an experience that’s lighter but still powerful.

Conclusion: Exploit the potential of the first mover

If you want to enrich your brand connection with 3D experiences, it is not enough to make your website VR compatible – this should be obvious by now. Rather, it is about content that is flexibly organized as part of a component approach (eg using a headless CMS system) and thus technically prepared for a variety of output media, including VR. The demands are high, and users who are constantly navigating the digital space expect nothing less.

The selected examples show that 3D user experiences in the digital space are no longer a dream of the future and go beyond purely product presentation. Volkswagen, for example, carried out several augmented reality experiences with the German national team during last summer’s European Football Championship, and Ikea has long been able to test its customers the effect of the furnishings displayed using filters in their four corners.

Developing and implementing 3D e-commerce experiences can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re starting from scratch. However, your teams may already have skills that can be useful in embarking on the path to the Metaverse together. Don’t let that stop you, just go ahead. Consumers are waiting for it – the faster they start, the greater the chance that you will remain one of the “first movers”.

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