The “metaverse” is one of the hottest ideas in tech right now. So in this article we’re going to break down exactly what the metaverse is… but also what it means for the ecommerce world.

Read on to find out how we expect shared virtual worlds to become the new ecommerce gold rush, and what you can do to make sure your business is ready to take advantage of it.

How the metaverse is shaping the future of ecommerce

A Brief History of the Metaverse

Millions of people around the world are already sharing experiences in virtual worlds.

You probably know some of these already. For example, Minecraft is the world’s all-time best-selling game, and it currently has over 140 million monthly active users. But it’s more than just a game, really – it is perhaps better described as a sandbox world, where visitors can interact, chat, play, and build together.

There are plenty of other examples of these massively multiplayer online (MMO) games too – such as World of Warcraft, Runescape, Fortnite, Roblox, VR Chat, and so on – which range from having a clear focus on cooperative gameplay elements, to those which are less game-oriented, and more along the lines of a virtual chat room. Additionally, many also have commercial features.

One of the earliest of these was Second Life, launched by its creators Linden Lab back in 2003. This sprawling virtual environment took the form of an MMO social hub and sandbox. Visitors could interact, they could build, explore – and they could also buy and sell.

Purchases in Second Life are made using the developers’ own virtual currency, the “Linden Dollar”… which could also be exchanged outside the platform for real-world currency. At its peak in September 2006, Second Life was said to have a GDP of $64 million dollars.

So these are your virtual universes – meanwhile, the “metaverse” idea describes what happens when these separate virtual worlds start merging together.

For example, let’s say the owners of Second Life also bought the rights to the Minecraft world. What would that mean? Well, any virtual assets that a user owned in one world – clothing, tools, accessories, collectibles – could now carry over to the other world too. Perhaps players would be able to dig for rare ores in Minecraft, then sell them at a market in Second Life for a virtual currency that had real-world value.

In such a metaverse you could create your own avatar, which would then keep the same appearance from one virtual realm to the next… no matter if you’re playing online games, attending the opening of a virtual gallery exhibition… or catching a show from your favourite musical artist.

Think of the “metaverse” as a virtual hub world, connecting users seamlessly to a countless number of distinct and separate virtual experiences – from VR museum tours, to travel simulations, to multiplayer shooting games, to virtual shops and chat rooms.

Jensen Huang, CEO of tech company NVIDIA, has predicted that these future virtual worlds “will be photorealistic, obey the laws of physics and be inhabited by human avatars and AI beings.”

However, as popular virtual worlds start merging, this is also going to give incredible power and influence to whichever companies come out on top as the hosts of the metaverse.

For example, Facebook is betting big on metaverse tech. In 2014 they bought the VR company Oculus for $2 billion, their parent company then rebranded as Meta, and in 2021 they launched their own virtual social platform: Horizon Worlds.

Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerburg has said that in the next 5 years, they expect to change: “from people seeing us primarily as a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

But the metaverse project has massive implications for all of us.

In our article on Ecommerce Trends, you might remember that Shopify reported: “75% of global business decision makers believe interacting with customers in the metaverse will become commonplace.”

Additionally, we saw how Grand View Research predicted that metaverse commerce would be worth almost $680 billion by 2030.

So let’s have a look now at what the metaverse means for the future of ecommerce.

A Brief History of the Metaverse

The Future of Commerce is Virtual

Cast your mind back to 2019.

Disney was preparing to release their latest big blockbuster, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. In order to promote it, they took advantage of a novel new form of PR.

The film’s largest promotional event was held online, in a completely virtual space – inside the MMO game Fortnite. According to The Gamer, more than 3.1 million Fornite players attended this virtual event.

If you read our recent article on 2023 Retail Trends, then you saw this quote from Shopify president, Harley Finkelstein:

“Before, customers went to brands. Today, brands must go where their customers are. Brands would be wise to start adopting this behaviour now.”

So with that in mind, it was an incredibly smart idea on the part of Disney to market their new release in the form of a playable interactive event inside one of the world’s most popular and heavily-trafficked virtual spaces.

This trend of virtual social spaces is only growing, too.

We saw a massive boom during the Covid-19 pandemic – when a lot of traditional tourism became impossible, and people started visiting virtual worlds in larger numbers than ever seen before. Many real-world tourism destinations began offering virtual alternatives – such as VR tours of museums, or national heritage sites.

But it doesn’t end there. We have already seen musicians offering virtual concerts… and educational experiences that use virtual spaces to recreate historical events.

And think about this too – while to some of us the idea of socialising in virtual worlds might sound bizarre, there is a whole new generation of consumers who are growing up with this reality.

According to Dexerto, in 2021 Fortnite had more than 400 million active players.

As these players grow into adults – into consumers – you can expect the world of commerce to start looking very different to what we’ve known in the past. Virtual and fully interactive shopping experiences will increasingly become the norm.

Like Harley Finkelstein said, brands must go where their customers are...

So if your brand isn’t already thinking seriously about growing its virtual presence, then you might want to start now!

Let us show you how Alvio is preparing for the metaverse.

The Future of Commerce is Virtual

Alvio and the Metaverse

Back in May we explored what Shopfiy’s Commerce Trends 2023 report had to say about the future of ecommerce. In particular, Shopify stressed the significance of the metaverse idea:

“Seamless connection will be a hallmark of these virtual spaces, just as it has become a key feature of modern commerce. And a connected brand experience across channels will be even more important to the future of commerce than in recent years, according to 84% of the businesses we surveyed.”
Commerce Trends 2023 – p.46

So how can you go about building that “connected brand experience”?

We believe that through our collaboration with Prove Anything, we are able to offer brands a powerful head-start in the right direction.

Prove Anything uses web3 and blockchain technology in order to issue COA (Certificates of Authenticity) attached to any product or transaction. In terms of physical commerce, it means any individual product can be transparently tracked throughout its lifetime – from the manufacturer, to point of sale, and beyond.

But more than that, this powerful blockchain authentication is like giving your products their own digital passport.

Say for example your customer buys a pair of unique, custom trainers from you… a blockchain certificate can serve as a COA, and proof of provenance, allowing that item to better retain its value. It also serves as a receipt in case the customer wants to return or trade the shoes.

More than that though, this blockchain COA becomes their ticket into your larger virtual family. Let’s say the next year you collaborate on a live event with a top DJ… you might choose to offer reduced entry passes to your loyal customers, and those blockchain-authenticated trainers then become a virtual ticket!

That’s just the beginning though.

Commerce in the metaverse is inevitably going to be powered by blockchain tech. When (not if) one single corporation begins to emerge as the de facto authorities of a metaverse conglomeration, when we start to see multiple virtual worlds merging together into seamless experiences, those worlds are also going to have to pick their official currencies – and at that point, it’s likely be to one of the main blockchain-backed cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum which proves the most utility.

A commercial, widespread and accessible metaverse project will serve to make cryptocurrencies commonplace. In that very possible, and very near future, we’ll soon reach a day when everyone has access to a crypto wallet.

And here’s the thing – your blockchain COA can be stored in a crypto wallet, right alongside your cryptocurrencies.

So as the metaverse idea grows gradually closer to becoming a global reality, you can get ahead of the curve by starting to issue your COA already.

As Shopify told us:

“...the directions commerce takes on these platforms are still in construction mode, which means opportunity for brands that want to lead in the next generation of social commerce.
Commerce Trends 2023 – p.47

The future is coming, whether you’re ready for it or not! So how about you join Alvio, and we take it head on together?

And look – we’re not going to claim we can see the future. We don’t know everything that’s coming, or exactly what shape the metaverse is going to take. But you’d better believe it’s coming, and that’s why we’re building flexible and adaptable plans for it.

The great thing about the work we’re going with Prove Anything, is that you don’t have to have a plan for your metaverse business yet, in order to issue your COA. That means you can issue digital tickets or keys now, bringing customers into your virtual family… and figure out what the rewards will be later.

Alvio and the Metaverse

Let’s Take on the Future Together!

So there you have it. Alvio might offer a lot of solutions for smart ecommerce in the here and now – through our collaborative ecom partner platform – but beyond that, we also have big plans for the future. And you’d better believe that future is coming.

If you want to talk about future-proofing your business, about issuing Certificates of Authenticity, or even just to chat and share your own ideas about the commerce possibilities of the metaverse – then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

You can reach us on LinkedIn, or by dropping us an email through our website. And if you found this article interesting, then don’t forget to subscribe to get our future posts delivered to your inbox.


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