Metaverse – something for online retail too?

Symbol image Metaverse

Symbol image Metaverse

Metaverse Metaverse – something for online retail too?

Published on 16.02.2022 by Markus Peter, lecturer in online retail and online retail logistics at various universities of applied sciences

Many of the world’s largest technology companies, including Microsoft and Meta (ex. Facebook), have begun promoting the concept of the “metaverse”.

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is not a reality yet. But in a decade’s time, it could well be if you look at the investments many leading technology companies plan to make. To put it simply, the metaverse is a world of virtual reality and augmented reality where people can shop from the comfort of their homes, play games, meet friends and enjoy all sorts of other forms of entertainment as well.

The metaverse has the potential to fundamentally change the way we live our day-to-day lives if it’s done properly. It will create something that is more akin to the innovative, digital worlds that we’ve all seen in science fiction films and books.

Metaverse vs Second Life

In the tech world, there is a lot of talk about the metaverse, a virtual world where soon millions of people may be able to come together to work, play and socialize. Yet the idea is not as new as it may seem. Since 2003, people have been meeting in the online world of Second Life to do all these things.

The creators of Second Life, Linden Lab, keep stressing that Second Life isn’t a game. In Second Life, there are no goals or targets. Instead, users create a digital avatar that represents them, and are free to explore the world, meet other users, create their own digital content, or even trade goods and services in the world currency, the Linden dollar.

The metaverse is an exciting prospect for consumers

People will be able to jump into the metaverse for a work meeting at midday, then meet up with an old friend for a virtual lunch straight after. In the evening, people will be able to shop virtually after work, and then play a few games. All this will be possible thanks to a simple VR headset.

The metaverse is an exciting prospect for consumers. But for the economy, the prospects are likely even more exciting. It will create a brand new digital economy that is based on the interactions of people both within and with this new digital world.

E-commerce in particular will undergo a fundamental change in this new interactive metaverse, and is set to seamlessly blend the best aspects of in-store shopping and online shopping. Live shopping has recently experienced an upturn for this very reason: it offers consumers an exciting new mix of interactive purchasing functions.

But the metaverse will likely bring brand new features to the table that have never been seen before.

How to define the metaverse

Currently, there are several slightly different visions of the metaverse. Most companies working on metaverse-related projects have different ideas of what it is.

Yet all these ideas are based on the core concept of the metaverse, i.e. it being a multifaceted virtual world that offers users a whole host of digital experiences and ways to interact with others. It will contain a range of different but interconnected digital environments. These will provide spaces for recreational activities, social events, shopping, work and so much more.

Online retail in the metaverse

Advertising campaigns will be just as important in the metaverse as they are right now in online retail. Even in early versions of the metaverse that have come about with games such as Roblox and Fortnite, a clear digital economy has emerged.

This economy will, however, only continue to grow if other brands like Meta (ex. Facebook) work on developing the metaverse to go beyond gaming, and incorporate other forms of entertainment and VR business environments.

Such campaigns are used to increase the appeal of goods and services, to keep customers in a particular area of the metaverse and to attract people into the metaverse through recommendations.

This is new ground for online retailers. The prerequisite for this is modern technical systems, and to rethink what they offer. This requires additional 3D content and virtual content.


Markus Peter, Post CH Ltd

Lecturer in online retail and online retail logistics at various universities of applied sciences.

Portrait Markus Peter

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