For businesses, the metaverse could be the latest technology used to advance and strengthen physical industries.
Until recently, the metaverse — which merges the physical with the virtual — had largely attracted the attention of gamers playing megahits such as Fortnite or Call of Duty. Shopping there has consisted mainly of gamers purchasing virtual clothing and armory for their avatars.
But real-world retailers are viewing the technology as a way to turn Gen Z consumers into new customers.
Luxury retail has been one of the most noted industries to test it out, with Ralph Lauren and Fendi offering up metaverse tours of their brick-and-mortar flagship stores, said Robin Barrett Wilson, SAP executive advisor, fashion and retail strategy.
“It’s going to make retail exciting,” Wilson said. “Shopping is really about an experience. We would rather pay for an experience than an item. So, it’s really not about touching and feeling the product. It’s about going into a store to have an experience.”
Wilson said she believes the metaverse experience will drive customers to physical stores — which account for more than 70% of retail sales today — to purchase physical items they become interested while shopping in the metaverse.
But the metaverse’s biggest impact could be on business, industries and manufacturing.
“It will extend the supply chain,” she said, by giving more insight into demand and inventory. It also will be yet another source of customer data to analyze.
SAP CEO Christian Klein on Thursday said that the company’s large partners have reached out to collaborate on using the metaverse. They have discussed potential business-to-business (B2B) use, such as learning or commerce, he said.
“I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this in the near term,” Klein told Reuters.
SAP has been applying digital twin technology — virtual replicas of existing structures, capital goods and industry processes — to help customers gain insight into and predict real scenarios. SAP has been investigating using blockchain and machine learning to network these virtual structures, and to share data to unlock the power of digital twin technology will have on the physical world.