Similarly, brands need to determine which of their assets and IPs would translate well into the metaverse – what would their target segmentation recognize immediately? From a branding perspective, companies that leverage the metaverse to its full potential focus on improving the various points of customer interaction, engagement, and experience to create loyal buyers as they see fit. would do in the real world. Likewise, in terms of transactions and currencies, companies must be open to decentralized applications and the new virtual economy such as NFTs.

Virtual commerce vs e-commerce

The purpose of the metaverse is to augment the real world and the digital world with a new virtual world. Therefore, organizations must differentiate between virtual commerce or v-commerce and e-commerce. The first involves the purchase of goods and services in the metaverse, while the second involves the consumer buying goods online and sending items to each other in the real world. Brands don’t have to simply recreate their website in the metaverse or digitally replicate a mall.

[Read more: Degree Hosts World’s First Metaverse Marathon in Support of DE&I Initiatives]

An ideal virtual commerce strategy should focus on creating an experience that allows consumers to explore and discover in ways they couldn’t on a 2D webpage. And because there are no physical constraints in the metaverse, businesses don’t need to follow traditional floor plans or inventory space. Businesses should seek to integrate all of their commerce into a cohesive, clear, yet engaging customer experience.

Nike has a solid understanding of the combined use of v-commerce and e-commerce. For example, on Nike.com, someone can easily buy a pair of Air Jordans, but they can also buy the same pair for their metaverse avatar.

Community, not corporation

An optimal approach to the metaverse is, like any client-focused strategy, community- or club-focused. Much like Fortnite and Roblox, the Metaverse will draw many of its characteristics from the game world in the form of virtual and real-world activities, interactions, and friendships.

These new communities will need to rely on communication channels analogous to Discord and Twitch, where people can chat seamlessly by text or voice in smaller or larger groups. Businesses can enrich their customers’ experiences by fostering communities and creating organic opportunities for users to come together and discuss common interests.

Companies like Lululemon have already cultivated vibrant communities through in-store yoga classes, and the next step is to find the best way to achieve something similar in the metaverse. However, as it stands, there is no interoperability in the metaverse yet, leaving the open question of how users will move between communities operated by different brands.

Different platform, same mission

Establishing a presence on the metaverse will require a balance of not getting in too hastily while trying not to get left behind. Again, while it’s tempting to be seen as part of the future, jumping in without a long-term strategy could jeopardize future opportunities. Also consider that some brands will require less effort to settle in the metaverse depending on their audience and product types. Also, brands shouldn’t join metaverse for metaverse’s sake. Instead, it should be part of their overall customer engagement strategy.

Erica Moreti, Senior Director, Innovation Consulting at EPAM Continuum