How e-commerce brands can arm themselves for the metaverse

When it comes to digital user experiences – especially in e-commerce – the bar will be much higher in the future, especially with the vision of the Metaverse. None of this is a dream of the future, but a scenario that retailers can already prepare for today.

By Dominik Angerer, co-founder and CEO of Storyblok

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, marketers in particular are skeptical. The promises were great, but so far there have been too few use cases where the use of immersive technologies has been truly compelling. That could now change once and for all: tech giants Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are all pursuing large-scale projects, the keyword being “metaverse”: a convergence of 3D worlds into a common virtual experience.

A review of the facts also shows that consumers yearn for a 3D e-commerce world: Google found that 66% of consumers are interested in using augmented reality as a shopping aid. A Shopify survey also showed that interactions with products embedded in a 3D or AR environment convert almost twice as much as products presented in traditional digital fashion.

The hype is real – and no e-commerce brand that wants to position itself sustainably for the future should ignore it. Here’s a roadmap that will make your brand’s journey through the Metaverse easier.

1. Create technical framework conditions

If you want to cross the threshold into the world of immersive e-commerce, you must be aware beforehand that development teams and in particular content managers must adapt new skills in order to ultimately be able to create real 3D digital experiences. Because the development of three-dimensional content is more reminiscent of gaming than the once familiar creation of digital content.

In order to select the right software tools, you must first specify for which hardware you want to create 3D experiences: Do your customers mainly use computers, smartphones and 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 get started with AR content development.

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

2. Provide appropriate creative resources

Long blocks of text in a 3D environment? It doesn’t add up. We’re talking about visual experiences here, so brands need to focus on creating content that appeals to the eye and grabs the user’s attention. What works on a traditional website today will not look natural in a world of 3D content.

It is all the more crucial to supply and create elements suitable for 3D. What high resolution images 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? And you should also consider the sound factor as an essential part of three-dimensional worlds from the start.

3. Match content to user needs

Despite all the euphoria around the Metaverse, it’s important to remember that consumer requirements for consuming 3D content are very different. Not all consumers will have the latest and greatest device, let alone 5G coverage. A factor not to be underestimated, especially with immersive content.

Latency of a few milliseconds might go unnoticed on a normal website, but in a VR or AR environment supposed experiences can become torture. Therefore, try to optimize your content so that it offers the best possible quality at a reasonable file size. If an experience suffers from loading too much content at once, it’s best to create a lighter but still powerful experience.

Conclusion: Unleash first-mover potential

If you want to enrich your brand communication with 3D experiences, it’s not enough to make your website VR-enabled – that should be clear by now. Rather, it is content that is flexibly structured within a component-based approach (e.g. using a headless CMS) and is therefore technically prepared for a wide variety of media. output, including virtual reality. The demands are high, and users continually moving through the digital space expect nothing less.

Selected examples show that three-dimensional user experiences in the digital space are no longer a dream of the future and go beyond mere product presentation. Volkswagen, for example, set up several AR experiences with the German national team during the European Football Championship last summer, and Ikea has long allowed its customers to test the effect of the furniture on offer using filters in their four corners.

Designing and implementing three-dimensional 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 metaverse path together. Don’t let that stop you, go for it. Consumers expect it – and the sooner they get started, the more likely they are to still be one of the “first movers”.

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