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GUEST COMMENT How can commerce become THE immersive experience for consumers in 2030?

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Oliver Turner, ecommerce precision director at Wavemaker

By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment, according to Gartner. The study goes on to predict that this virtual space will enable the retail industry to extend its reach to an immersive shopping experience that allows for the sale of more complex products. With this in mind, the metaverse has the potential to have a profound impact on the way consumers interact with retail brands – from buying and selling, as well as for browsing and research.

However, what may or may not exist within the metaverse, not only for the retail sector, still remains a hot topic of debate, discussion and development. It would be fair to say that despite all the predictions on the potential innovation that it will unleash – ‘commerce’ is still an area that has not been thought about with as much imagination as potentially it could have. What will this look like? Will it be more than brands just launching NFTs and buying crypto currency? How will consumers interact with this new immersive commerce experience? 

As we enter 2030, immersive commerce has the power to be the area of most change in the next decade. Although some elements of how people buy things will change beyond what we know today, due to emerging technologies, there are core features that will remain the same. They will just be enhanced by eight years of innovation and shifting consumer needs, which are making commerce truly immersive. This might sound farfetched, but eight years ago you would never have spoken to an Alexa to order toilet paper. 

How can the consumer find themselves in the market for products in 2030? 

The consumer’s immersive journey will have already started long before they know that they are in the market for a product as they are already intertwined with the metaverse. The consumer’s own personal virtual space and data is defined by a universal digital ID built and stored on the blockchain that they have complete ownership of. Here they can control what data and virtual presence they give off. These digital IDs allow immersive consumer journeys to exist. 

In the physical world, the consumer could meet some friends for dinner. During the meal, they have a delicious vegan burger and want to try to recreate it at home. The consumer tells their phone, and the AI finds the ingredients used. It then calculates what they already have at home and orders the ingredients from the metaverse marketplace for when they get back. This means that retailers will compete in an auction for the chance to deliver their groceries, with an algorithm picking the best one for the consumer. 

On their way home the consumer sees an ad on the tube for a chocolate brand. They want to check out the brand and enter a web3 product page. 

How does the consumer experience product research in 2030? 

For the online retailer of 2030 there will be a fundamental change to its product page. It will not be owned by a grocer but instead will resemble a marketplace where brands have complete ownership of their own virtual space with retailers bidding for the fulfilment of the consumer’s order. Product pages will have AR, live streams, recommendations from friends and consumers will also be able to see the sustainability of that product with a carbon calculator.

How can the product be delivered? 

As the consumer interacts with the product page, the algorithm determines how likely they are to purchase the product. This kickstarts an auction for retailers to bid and compete for completing the consumer’s delivery. Predictive AI and fluidity between warehouses guarantee the product is already nearby, enabling instant delivery systems to function. When the consumer wants to checkout they tap and their digital ID updates their location. The ideal time for delivery is updated based on this data and this allows the consumer to relax knowing their order is on its way. 

How do brands prepare for immersive commerce? 

2030 is a mere eight years away. Brands have time to prepare, but those that will succeed are going to be trailblazers in commerce innovation. 

  1. Content needs to be fit for immersion. At Wavemaker, we see fit for purpose ecommerce content drive an 11% increase in conversion. If commerce is going to be truly immersive in 2030, then branded content needs to reflect this. As a result, brands need to ensure their content is experiential, tells a brand story and immerses consumer’s throughout their purchase journey. 
  2. Online selling needs to be scalable and therefore profitable. Brands need to think about how they can introduce products that are profitable to sell online. A single pack of gum or a shampoo bottle is not going to be scalable. 
  3. Get ahead of the innovation curve. Rigorously testing emerging technologies and working with the start-ups/media owners creating them will ensure your brand stays ahead of the adoption curve. So that when these technologies become mainstream your brand has the best consumer experience driven by immersive commerce.
  4. Work with delivery partners to make instant delivery happen. The cost of delivery is often cited as the main reason for why consumers abandon their cart (Statista, 2021). Intelligent instant delivery can make this feasible, but delivery owners need brand partnerships to build this infrastructure. 
  5. Take sustainability seriously as sustainable lifestyles are on the rise (Deloitte, 2022). Consumers will have access to carbon data in 2030. Carbon calculators will increasingly make their way into all consumer’s decision making (Statista, 2022), therefore focusing on reducing carbon emissions in production, transportation and in media buying. 

Although exactly how consumers will purchase products and services in 2030 is uncertain, what is clear is that it will become a truly immersive experience. There’s an exciting future ahead for retail, especially those brands who dig deep and use their imagination to unleash the very best in commerce innovation.

Oliver Turner is ecommerce precision director at Wavemaker

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