The metaverse can be described as an interconnection of virtual worlds that employs artificial intelligence (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other immersive technologies and provides users with a digital second life. Many experts expect the metaverse will become an extension of the business world in the near future—in fact, Bill Gates has predicted that most virtual meetings will move from Zoom to the metaverse within the next two or three years.
The metaverse may be a new challenge for some small businesses, but it’s one that can create a major competitive advantage. Here’s what small businesses need to know:
The business impact of the metaverse
Even though metaverse technology is more than a decade away from maturity, there is a frenzy to understand the metaverse and be metaverse-ready. Some sectors like retail and real estate are more likely to be impacted by the metaverse than others.
Customers are increasingly accustomed to shopping as a social experience through AR filters and unique, interactive, and real-time content and experiences on social media. This highlights an opportunity for retail businesses to enter the metaverse through virtual retail stores.
Some fashion, cosmetics, furniture, and home improvement retailers are already testing out metaverse-enabling technologies in VR and AR, which makes them well-positioned to move to the metaverse. The metaverse can improve upon the current implementation of immersive technologies in these sectors by offering less awkward and more immersive product experiences.
Related: Shopify Unlocks Augmented Reality for Small Retailers
The metaverse will enable real estate firms to create virtual replicas of real-world properties that buyers can explore from anywhere in the world. These immersive experiences can enhance the shopping experience for residential and commercial buyers alike.
Additionally, metaverse real estate includes digital “land” where individuals or companies can host social events, business meetings, and even large-scale conferences. The huge potential for new development opportunities has led some experts to call the metaverse the new frontier.
Metaverse trends to watch
The following trends are likely to grow as more businesses incorporate the metaverse into their long-term strategies.
Increased availability and access to VR
It is important to note that AR and VR technologies are becoming more accessible to consumers. From price wars between vendors to better network connectivity and hardware innovations, these technologies are becoming more mainstream. The immersive tech market will continue to open new doors for more businesses and strengthen the foundation of our interaction with the metaverse.
Greater cryptocurrency adoption
The use of cryptocurrency for making payments has been scaling quickly. More enterprises accept payments in cryptocurrency today than ever before, and there is more interest in the decentralized nature of digital currencies.
Cryptocurrency provides a likely currency for metaverse transactions. Furthermore, blockchain technology offers financial security and privacy that’s fitting for the nature of the metaverse.
The profitability of gaming in the metaverse continues to make immersive gaming one of the biggest metaverse trends. As gaming continues to be the best current implementation of the metaverse, it is worth taking note of how marketers and distributors are taking advantage of the opportunity to promote their products to an engaged audience. In-game advertising can be used as a case study of the most successful metaverse implementation to date.
How to leverage the metaverse
To anticipate and leverage the metaverse, SMBs should consider the following tips.
Strengthen online presence
Since the metaverse is often considered an evolution of the internet, your business’s online presence will likely have an even greater significance as the metaverse grows. As such, it’s important to create a brand strategy that future-proofs your business in anticipation of the metaverse. For example, consider whether your e-commerce platform offers integrations with metaverse-enabling technologies like AR.
Related: How to Create a Small Business Brand Strategy
Tweak your business model
To avoid being left behind by the metaverse, consider tweaking your business model to grow alongside immersive technology. This may be as small as accepting new payment methods like cryptocurrency, or as large-scale as digitizing fundamental business processes and services.
Related: 7 Digital Transformation Benefits For Small Businesses
Include the metaverse in your competitive analysis
Though the current iteration of the metaverse is still evolving, you can anticipate its impact by observing your competition via competitive analysis. In its current form, the metaverse is an opportunity for experimentation—keep an eye on your competitors’ metaverse strategies and mistakes to avoid lagging behind and sidestep the same mistakes.
Invest in gamification
Gamification can improve customer engagement and employee productivity, and the metaverse will provide new gamification opportunities for your customers and employees. Brainstorm ways you can leverage metaverse-enabled gamification to train your staff, conduct a product demonstration, or teach customers new skills.
Look out for the right tools
Identify the software and hardware solutions that will make the metaverse more accessible for your business. You may not have the resources or expertise to explore the metaverse on your own, but you can leverage tools from vendors like Shopify, Meta, and TikTok that are forging an immersive path for small businesses.
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