The Metaverse can shake up Digital Commerce forever

by July 26, 2022 0 comments

Even though the Metaverse and Web 3.0 concepts  are still evolving, some of the use-cases like immersive commerce, and NFT-related use-cases look very promising in terms of solving some of the long-standing challenges faced by the e-commerce companies as well as in creating new revenue streams

Indian e-commerce major, Flipkart has recently announced its innovation arm, Flipkart Labs in order to test and shape the future of digital commerce with new, emerging, and immersive technologies such as Blockchain, Web 3.0, Metaverse, etc. Flipkart acquired AR/VR startup Scapic in 2020 and since has been experimenting with the idea of immersive shopping experiences which are likely to snowball further under this newly formed Flipkart Labs umbrella. We spoke to Naren Ravula, VP and Head, Product Strategy and Deployment, Flipkart Labs to know how the metaverse can take e-commerce to a whole new level.  

How brands, sellers, and buyers on the e-commerce platforms are likely to benefit from embracing Metaverse and Web 3.0-based solutions?

Brands and Sellers will continue to evolve their approach to interfacing with consumers. The metaverse now offers a newer, more immersive medium for brands to experiment with different kinds of content and commerce. The growing importance of virtual characters or avatars in recent times presents various business opportunities in e-commerce. Consumers now expect a combination of in-store and digital experiences, and the metaverse offers the ability to engage with brands and products using a personalized avatar.

The metaverse has already become a playground for luxury fashion brands, with some launching their new collection in the virtual world and others partnering up with developers to create their own bespoke games. In the near future, we anticipate more brands to follow and break the boundaries between virtual and physical reality to create more innovative, meaningful interactions with consumers. 

We are in the very early days here and our team will be working on many different pilots and experiments. There are several use-cases for Web 3.0 in e-commerce. For example, brands looking to connect with loyal users and fans can provide additional value by way of gated commerce enabled through NFTs. At the same time, brands and artists can use NFTs to build and monetize communities. We can create immersive shopping experiences in the Virtual Worlds/Metaverse, an ever-expanding world of real-time, with the help of virtual spaces in 3D. We can also enable e-commerce landscapes based on the Blockchain that will allow anyone to trade physical products on-chain.

What kind of challenges have you come across so far in embracing them and how are you addressing those challenges?

Providing the same immersive experience for hundreds of millions of users in the Metaverse simultaneously is tough. The current smartphone device has limitations in terms of CPU/Processing power. Several global tech players are trying to build an AR/VR/MR headset, relying on the assumption that 5G technology will scale rapidly underneath.

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The current growth of Web 3.0 appears to be constrained by high barriers to entry, and all have some problems in common. Deep technical knowledge is required, and we are working in a Dynamic Regulatory environment. The high network fees may discourage new users and the user journey might also prove to be difficult requiring multiple steps and accounts. It also poses a question on sustainability and energy wastage and therefore could contribute to a bad carbon footprint.

At Flipkart, we are trying to solve the above by looking to build products in a space that is user-friendly, abstract away the technology, and comply with the existing regulatory standards.

How do you see the application for Web 3.0 and Metaverse evolving in the coming years?

While Web3.0 and Metaverse proponents believe that it will one day replace Web 2.0 and offline physical interactions entirely, that’s not likely going to be the case. Instead, a more likely future will see a spectrum where Web3.0 and Metaverse co-exist alongside Web 2.0, physical offline activity. The metaverse will create a different digital identity that’s in 3D and most likely an Avatar that can allow users to immerse themselves in ever-expanding worlds of real-time, virtual spaces.

Participants will be able to create, buy, socialize, and sell goods in these spaces. An entire economy that’s built on-chain is transparent, trustless, and immutable and will power these interactions and transactions. This will be powered by tokens, both fungible and non-fungible. Education and Learning, Fitness and Entertainment, and The Future of Work will all have applications that will have their alternatives in the virtual world.

Some of these applications will be built to run openly, almost without any interruption from a single community or company. These Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs are self-regulating and decentralise decision-making through incentive alignment with native currencies. They can enable greater “stakeholder” participation in decision-making through voting mechanisms.

The exact shape or form of these applications will be shaped by many storytellers, developers, designers, community managers, and DAO founders, and that’s what makes this space so exciting!

Naren Ravula VP and Head Product Strategy and Deployment Flipkart Labs

Naren Ravula, VP & Head, Product Strategy & Deployment, Flipkart Labs

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