Paving the Way for a Digital Future – How NFTs and the Metaverse Are Unlocking New Opportunities for Retailers

By Online Retailer | 19 Jul 2022

Digital transformation was given the necessary nudge as a result of the pandemic. Whilst we still have a long way to go, brands have given us a unique glimpse into the future of retail, the way we consume, and the opportunities that will be on offer.

Ahead of the Online Retailer Conference and Expo taking place in Sydney later this month, Priscilla Koukoui (Co-Founder, Power Women NFT) and Chris Smith (Founder and CEO, BIG Esports) provide some key insights about some of the more recent concepts, helping to understand exactly what incentives are being offered to the consumer and how brand loyalty is being built through their implementation.

But before we take a deep dive into the future, let’s track back to the introduction of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in 2014. NFTs can be anything – art, memes, newspaper articles, tweets, you name it. They have been around for a while but last year witnessed them catapult into the mainstream, gaining popularity with brands such as Adidas, Nike, and Dolce & Gabbana, who are creating NFT collections and getting in early on a lucrative market.

Rewards systems are now available to build on customer loyalty, functioning in a similar way to a loyalty membership card to provide access to exclusive communities, events, special discounts, and limited-edition merchandise. 

Finder’s 2021 NFT Adoption Report recorded a percentage of 4.6 Australian internet users that currently own an NFT, whilst Shopify’s research identified 27 percent of Australian and New Zealand consumers seemingly inclined to purchase one – so whilst many still consider NFTs to be a trend that will soon disappear, there is an exponential growth pattern predicted for the coming years.

The Metaverse was another steep learning curve for some but holds a key promise for the future of retail through personalised and interactive experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2026, the global metaverse will hit nearly $42 Billion, with 25 percent of people spending at least one hour per day in the metaverse for work, shopping, entertainment, or education.

That’s not to say that the world will phase out physical retail, we still need tangible and in-person experiences, but this will take us to the next level.

Chris Smith states, “Products still need to be purchased. In the real world, we saw an explosion in products for streamers, especially during the pandemic. Everyone wants to be a content creator and they need products to do so.

“The same will happen virtually. If you see a product in a metaverse and you want to purchase it, there is currently too much friction to it, requiring players to get out of the game in order to transact. As we all know, less friction equals more sales. This doesn’t just go for physical items, it works for virtual items too.”

Smith continues, “With technology, you can also have a more immersive experience, you can sell the way the product makes you look and feel. You can showcase a product “in action” – let’s say on the expensive end of a car. You can showcase how fast it is compared to other cars, how people on the street look at you when you’re in it, you can get the consumer into VR so they can experience how fast it does 0-100 km/h, etc.”

As we have seen, it’s a completely different world compared to that of just one decade ago, and as we work towards the trillion-dollar Metaverse, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Challenging retailers to offer something unique rather than following the trend, Priscilla Koukoui states, “… retailers need to educate themselves on what is coming next.  It is not about missing opportunities, but really about surviving their industry against ever fierce competition in an evolving environment with rigorous new customer expectations. They need to Adapt and Innovate: to Adaptovate!

“Our capacity to challenge normality has been developed during COVID. I think retailers have shown resilience and creativity to still continue to sell, and understand the need to adapt to customer expectations to have a virtual presence online and to think about ‘phygital’ (Physical and digital) experiences.”

The topics surrounding digital transformation, Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, and the opportunities that NFTs and digital assets are offering retailers as we step into a new era will be covered by an array of speakers at the Online Retailer Conference and Expo on July 20th and 21st at the ICC Sydney. 

Online Retailer Conference & Expo, Australia’s largest, longest-standing, and most recognised e-commerce conference & expo, will deliver an unparalleled speaker and retail brand line-up, set over 12 stages, bringing together the retail industry in person for the first time. In what promises to be the most comprehensive offering yet, Online Retailer will showcase the brightest names in retail to talk about the sector’s hottest topics.

The e-commerce landscape is changing. With a Power Retail Switched On membership, you get access to current e-commerce revenue and forecasting, traffic levels, average conversion rate, payment preferences and more!

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