The fashion world is fast being disrupted and transformed by the growing influence of the metaverse.
While the pandemic aided the widespread and fast adoption of e-commerce, rapid developments in new-age digital technologies such as augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) are seeing shoppers embrace the concept of fashion meta-commerce. Recent forecasts by Morgan Stanley, for example, peg the virtual fashion market to be worth over $55 billion by 2030.
The universe of fashion meta-commerce has an advantage over the world of fashion e-commerce as it solves shoppers’ long-standing challenges of touching, feeling, and trying on clothes before making the final purchase. Despite the advantages of buying from the comfort of one’s home, e-commerce falls short of providing this touch-and-feel experience to buyers. Unlike the world of fashion e-commerce, fashion in the metaverse promises immersive, 3D, and interconnected virtual environments that are far more engaging and experiential than the present-day experience of online shopping in the e-commerce world.
With further advancements in AR, VR, and artificial intelligence (AI) fashion meta-commerce is going to redefine the shopping experience of buyers purchasing clothes and accessories online.
More and more consumers are experimenting and exploring VR. Globally, almost one-third of consumers surveyed have used VR in the past six months. VR was most popular in China, India and Qatar shows data from PwC’s latest Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey.
Further findings from the survey show that 32% of VR users have purchased products as a result of testing them or browsing in stores via VR and 19% have used VR to purchase luxury goods.
These numbers prove fashion meta-commerce is fast becoming popular with buyers and going to redefine the shopper experience in the following ways:
Greater market accessibility and reach
Fashion meta-commerce paves the way for buyers to shop beyond space and time. Shoppers sitting in any corner of the world can access brands and products across fashion categories at the click of a button. Putting on a virtual headset, shoppers can walk through virtual stores, and try on clothes online through a 3D fitting room to get a 360-degree view of what selected outfits will look like.
With direct-to-consumer sales, shoppers will have quick access to actual products in a real (virtual) setting. The good and exciting part is that VR in shopping will make shoppers’ buying journey more immersive. VR technology will allow brands to engage consumers with a simulated environment through head-mounted gears.
Buyers, particularly Gen Z and millennials are increasingly adopting VR for shopping. McKinsey & Company estimates annual global spending by consumers and businesses related to the metaverse could reach $5 trillion by 2030.
Going forward, shoppers in the metaverse will have a real-life experience exploring virtual stores and browsing through a wide range of products.
Fun and ease of buying virtual clothing
Fashion meta-commerce is giving rise to a new buying category of virtual clothing. With people especially Zen Z spending more and more time online, they will have the option and the luxury of exploring and investing in virtual clothing. As in real life, in the virtual world too, buyers will don different avatars and looks by donning virtual clothing. Consumers will invest in virtual clothing as they would want their online avatars to be their best versions carrying versatile looks. Virtual clothing too will define individual fashion tastes.
Experiment with styles and cuts
Unlike physical stores which have a select collection and size options owing to limited retail space, fashion in the metaverse will offer buyers an opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of clothing online. They will have more options to experience more designs, styles, and cuts in myriad fabrics unlike in the real world where brands offer limited collections.
With no wastage of fabric and other resources in fashion meta-commerce, consumers will have the luxury to ask brands to create real-life exclusive pieces and ask them to create metaverse-only versions of their iconic in-house designs.
Getting the size and fit right
Unlike in the physical and fashion e-commerce world, shoppers in the fashion meta-commerce have the option of donating differently avatars – 3D representations of themselves that is an imaginary or identical avatars of one’s real self. Buyers can crossover with these avatars into virtual dressing rooms and try on different items of clothing from a brand’s offering.
With the help of mixed reality (MR) a technology that combines elements of both VR and augmented reality AR, shoppers can combine the imagery of themselves to try on clothing in different shapes and sizes. This saves them the pain of going in for a limited or only available product size that may not be the best fit for them. Shoppers in the metaverse have the advantage of receiving accurate size recommendations thanks to MR. They can enjoy the shopping experience by mixing and matching dresses in different sizes.
The rise of fashion meta-commerce will delight buyers as it will allow them to access fashion as an individual rather than embracing it as part of the masses.
This is possible in the metaverse because here brands have the resources and digital tools to create “custom’ fashion apparel that can be personalized for each individual or the virtual avatars of buyers.
This ability for personalization will add value to the shopper experience as buyers increasingly look for one-of-a-kind garments. Fashion is one category where every individual wants to stand out in the crowd by sporting a unique style.
AI technology in the metaverse allows brands to take personalization to the next level by tracking a customer’s activity, purchase history, taste, and demographic profile. Brands and sellers can leverage this vast pool of data to make it unique, and tailor-made for shoppers.
Shoppers in the metaverse can further enjoy personalization with AI store assistants assessing buyer preferences and a basis that offers shoppers personalized style advice based on buyers’ past purchase history.
Inclusive and comprehensive fashion experience
With the metaverse supporting virtual avatars the entire shopping experience will become more inclusive.
The adoption of virtual avatars will facilitate shopping experiences with family and friends. It will be an experience that can be had in large groups as is the case in the real world with AI sales assistants leading the buyer group through the virtual store, offering product recommendations and sales assistance.
Driven by digital technologies fashion meta-commerce offers buyers a unified and consistent shopping experience enabling buyers to move between different virtual worlds.
Higher customer satisfaction
Fashion meta-commerce will take the engagement level of shoppers to another level altogether.
The world of metaverse offers fashionistas a greater sense of convenience and engagement by eliminating the barrier between real physical shopping and online buying. Fashion meta-commerce promises better customer satisfaction as it offers a 360-degree product experience to buyers in the purchase phase. The overall shopping experience in the metaverse will be real-time, more comprehensive, and engaging.
In the future, digital technologies coupled with AI algorithms that are getting more creative, fashion meta-commerce will see brands and designers offer shoppers new digital outfits. Buyers in fashion meta-commerce will in the coming years get to experience completely new and exciting fashion experiences.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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