Virtual World Shopping Is Not The Metaverse


According to Forrester, virtual shopping experiences are wrongly labeled as the metaverse.

Although retailers and brands have launched virtual shopping on Roblox, the report says these experiences have been mislabeled because “they do not allow consumers to travel or move among disparate environments with their belongings.”

“Even two to three years from now, there will still be no metaverse, but immersive experiences will be more personalized and social. Shopping experiences may extend beyond a single brand, but consumers’ movement will be limited to a single platform or community,” says the report.

Nonetheless, brands are eager to step into virtual shopping experiences and often label them as part of the metaverse. Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and Pacsun have all launched virtual shopping experiences on platforms like Roblox this year. Crate and Barrel named a senior vice president of the metaverse in May.

The report comes after a McKinsey study predicts that the metaverse will have up to $2.6 trillion in value for ecommerce by 2030. While the survey results showed 64% of consumers indicated they were excited or very excited about shopping in the metaverse, other research from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence showed that consumers have little understanding of what the metaverse even is.

Brands often conflate the concept of Web3 – a new stage of the internet driven by blockchain technology – with the metaverse. For example, Alo Yoga’s press release shared with Retail Dive about accepting cryptocurrency payments stated, “Today’s announcement is not Alo’s first foray into the Web3 space, having partnered with gaming platform Roblox earlier this year….”

The Roblox virtual world platform is not built on blockchain technology. Additionally, Alo Yoga’s virtual wellness space on the platform did not specifically mention the usage of blockchain technology – a component needed for it to be considered part of the Web3 concept.

The recent McKinsey study noted that the metaverse is not inherently Web3. “While Web3 contributes to the metaverse by espousing decentralization and interoperability, it’s not the metaverse…” per the report.