First Things First – What Digital Experiences Brands Need To Fix Before Looking To The Metaverse

First Things First – What Digital Experiences Brands Need To Fix Before Looking To The Metaverse
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In an opinion piece by James Horne (pictured), CEO of Balance Internet, he discusses the steps that brands need to take before taking the step into the wide world of the metaverse.

The ‘metaverse’ is an integrated network of 3D worlds, which many tech enthusiasts believe is the future of the internet; a virtual place where we could have meetings, attend concerts, and even shop for clothes – virtually trying them on with your avatar – without ever leaving home. Although, with the technology still in its infancy, it’s unlikely we’ll see ubiquitous adoption of virtual reality in the immediate future.

What we will see, however, is the continued frustration of consumers having to deal with slow page load times due to patchy internet connections. Of shoppers abandoning carts because they don’t have their credit card details handy, or not completing purchases because they decide to shop around. We may live in a high-tech world, but the digital experiences we currently have are far from perfect. So before brands start making futuristic plans to build virtual shopfronts, they should be focusing their efforts on improving the digital experiences they already have.

The rise of hyper convenience

Convenience has always been a strong selling point, but the pandemic has seen the rapid acceleration of hyper-convenience. From groceries delivered to a customer’s door within a specific time frame, to petrol apps which let drivers pay before arriving at the bowser, innovations that made social distancing easier have provided consumers with more convenience than they’ve ever experienced before.

Now, consumers have come to expect access to goods and services how they want, when they want, and from wherever they want – and businesses must ramp up their capabilities in order to deliver. This could mean anything from improving the online shopping experience through faster load times to transforming supply chains or partnering with rideshare companies to improve delivery speeds. As the demand for hyper convenience continues to grow, brands need to invest in the technologies that will allow them to meet this ever increasing demand.

Removing friction from payments

Frictionless payments also come under the ‘convenience’ umbrella, as it allows consumers to transition from considering their purchase to having paid for it without having to go through the painful motion of adding payment details. Amazon is the perfect example of a beautifully frictionless experience; once you have an account, all you have to do is click on the product you want to purchase and before you know it, it’s on its way to you. Catching an Uber is similarly painless – you order the ride and arrive at your destination, having paid for it without actually having to reach into your wallet. This is the kind of frictionless payment experience all businesses should be aiming for.

Offering a truly frictionless experience is not just about storing payment details for future transactions, it’s also about offering a wide range of payment methods to cater for all preferences, from Apple Pay to buy-now-pay-later options and even accepting crypto. Because when it comes to purchasing decisions, the easier brands make it for consumers to pay, the less likely they are to shop around.

Enabling commerce everywhere

As digital commerce continues to evolve, the concept of an ‘online store’ will slowly be replaced by ‘commerce everywhere’. We’ve already seen the integration of shopping carts with social media platforms, with more brands now starting to explore conversational commerce – enabling direct purchasing through messaging channels such as SMS, Messenger and WhatsApp. Integrating social commerce and exploring conversational commerce should be high on the agenda for brands who don’t already offer these options. As emerging technologies such as AI-powered voice commerce become more widely adopted, it may soon be as simple as asking Google to order your next pair of shoes – this is also a reality brands should be preparing for.

Of course, enabling ‘commerce everywhere’ would technically include commerce within the metaverse as well. And this could certainly be an avenue brands may wish to explore… eventually. But in the immediate term, focusing on improving the digital experiences that customers are already demanding is a much greater priority. Meeting consumer demand for hyper convenience, offering frictionless payments, and exploring how to expand your footprint by enabling ‘commerce everywhere’ will deliver far stronger results in a much shorter timeframe than creating a virtual shopfront in the metaverse.

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