Matthew Neville

Research reveals how the metaverse high street could look and how small business can take advantage

Vista has partnered with Georgie Barrat, best known for presenting Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, to reveal what the high street of the metaverse could look like and what it means for small businesses.

This comes as research by Vista, the design and marketing partner to small businesses, shows almost a third (29 percent) of Brits plan to use the metaverse for online shopping in the future.

According to the study by Vista, of 2,000 UK adults, most Brits (59 percent) are familiar with the metaverse and anticipate it’ll take around 15 years before it goes mainstream. 73 percent of respondents predict it will be most popular with Gen Z and Millennials amongst all age groups.

Although the metaverse may seem a long way off, research shows that Brits’ shopping habits have shifted and that small businesses need to “stay on top of emerging tech”. Almost two thirds of Brits (64 percent) said that the pandemic increased their online shopping, with 65 percent saying it is important for small businesses to have an online presence.

But as over three-quarters (76 percent) of Brits still enjoy shopping on the high street, the metaverse offers small businesses an opportunity to blend virtual content with the real-world experiences that shoppers crave.

With these insights in mind, Georgie Barrat has shared some tips on how small businesses will be able to harness the metaverse to connect with their customers:

  • Revolutionise customer support: Customer support will be made easier through augmented reality (AR). Call-outs could be done virtually and AI assistants will be able to respond to frequently asked questions.
  • Adapt your marketing & design for the metaverse: While the metaverse will create a lot of new opportunities, in some cases it’s about taking what you’re doing and adapting it to this virtual world.
  • Create an inspiring and unique space: The metaverse allows small businesses to build virtual environments that can tell their story in ways they never have before, not bound by location, budget or even feasibility.
  • Offer a virtual ‘Try Before You Buy’: Within a virtual high street, it’s not a stretch to imagine customers using their digital twin to try on virtual clothes. AR allows people to see what a product will look like on them or place it in situ.
  • Consider how your product holds value in the metaverse: The metaverse will have its own economy. In fact, we are already seeing very lucrative examples of this in the likes of NFT’s, the digital real estate market in games like Decentraland and brands selling clothes (or skins as they’re known) for people to dress their avatars in.

Emily Shirley, general manager of Vista UK and Ireland said: “The metaverse will open a wealth of possibilities for many small businesses, as it has the opportunity to revolutionise how every single person in the UK and beyond purchases goods and experiences services.

“We’ll continue to partner closely with small businesses as we enter the next internet revolution together, providing tools and advice for every step of the way.”

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