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EDITORIAL Growth through marketplaces, AR and the metaverse… no really

Growth can be found in new and unexpected places (Image: Shutterstock_1639774732)

Shopping online has become every-more popular during and post-pandemic and, while this will continue, how people engage with ecommerce is going to radically shift.

To work out what this means, we have to look at what those at the cutting edge of online use, the kids, are doing right now. Understanding Zoomers – Gen Z shoppers – is increasingly key to retail. According to research, Gen Z does things very differently today and that will continue to impact retail as far into the future as 2030.

For starters, 80% of them are on social media, both shopping on and earning money from TikTok. In fact, TikTok is increasingly becoming central to retail growth. A separate study finds that another 80% of Gen Z use the app for all aspects of their life and more than half of them use it to shop.

Among these TikTok addicts, a growing proportion are increasingly looking for augmented reality and even metaverse interaction with brands and retailers – making these seemingly out there technologies now potentially something that retailers need to start to take seriously.

In fact, 59% of all UK adults are aware of the metaverse, while 73% of millennials and zoomers saying that they will be using it within the next few years.

This is very much turning into the theme for 2022: the world of augmented reality and the metaverse are shifting from something you read about to something you need to actively explore using.

However, changing consumer habits aren’t confined to the more fanciful end of the tech spectrum – there are other changes afoot in ecommerce that have an equal and perhaps more immediate impact.

Marketplaces are reshaping ecommerce as we know it and having an profound impact on smaller and independent retailers. Many believe that marketplaces are the nemesis of the smaller retailers, but the rise of more niche and specialist marketplaces are in fact a boon to the sector.

Even marketplace giant eBay thinks so. It is spending late April patrolling the highways and byways of the UK hosting small businesses and helping them get online. I wonder if they will also be showcasing how to use the metaverse?

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