Is the Metaverse Ready for Commerce?

Scott Harmon
June 13, 2022

‘The metaverse’ is an umbrella term that refers to a set of technologies, platforms and concepts that grew out of the massively multiplayer online gaming, or MMOG, tech innovation and investment over the past 20 years or so. But instead of one single virtual universe, the better analogy is probably a sort of multiverse of potentially interconnected metaverses.  We are tracking more than 25 different metaverse projects, and more are coming every month. 

Most metaverses share most or all of the following attributes:

Placemaking
Because they are built on VR technology, all metaverses mimic some aspect of physical spatial reality: cities, blocks, districts and venues including shops, museums, theaters, etc. This can be awesome and disorienting at the same time because many of the rules and conventions of the real world are bent or even suspended in metaverse virtual reality. For example, you can jump or ‘teleport’ between spaces in some worlds but not others, and very basic things like conversation, movement, sound and your appearance - your avatar - behave very differently from space to space. 

Avatars

Unlike Web2 websites, metaverses are immersive and experiential because humans create and cultivate their avatars and become an integral part of the experience. When you’re in a metaverse store, you see and can interact with the other avatars that are there, just like you would in a physical shop. One of the big issues that needs to be sorted out amongst metaverse providers are standards for avatars to move seamlessly between realms while retaining their assets - like wearables - and their digital attributes. 

Digital asset  economy
Virtually every 3D asset in a metaverse is a digital asset that can potentially be bought or sold, including the places themselves! This has given rise to a new asset class for metaverse real estate.

Two new types of decentralized digital assets are used to trade in metaverses: non-fungible tokens (NFT) and native tokens such as ETH or SOL. In general, things in metaverses are created, packaged, listed and sold as NFTs in a new kind of marketplace, for example Nifty, OpenSea, Mintable, and Spring

Decentralized metaverses allow users, creators and developers to own a piece of them as digital real estate, which are NFTs and associated smart contract terms and conditions that link to a parcel of land with a fixed and determined set of parcels. The value of these real estate NFTs rise as more people visit them, just like IRL real estate.  

Rather than one single metaverse, the future will likely comprise many metaverses - more like a multiverse - with each metaverse designed around different types of users and activities. 

Early Metaverse projects like Roblox, Axie Infinity and CryptoVoxels were designed mostly around gaming with a play-to-earn or asset ownership model. But in the past 18 months or so, numerous metaverses designed around things such as education (Virbela), public events (Spatial), NFT showrooms (Oncyber) have come on the scene.

SwivelMeta is focused on a new category of metaverse, one centered around e-commerce.  

The Future of Products is Phygital

It can be hard to sort the hype from the substance in Web3, but one area where the token economy is clearly having a major impact is in re-defining how brands extend and augment the value of their products using NFT technology. 

The potential reach and impact of this trend is almost impossible to understate. We’re working with companies that make spirits and wine, shoes and streetwear, household furniture, sustainable clothing and home goods, and outerwear, all of whom are combining the physical and digital aspects of their core products and product experiences to fundamentally re-create how their relationship with markets and customers. 

These ‘phygital’ product strategies re-image everything about the customer’s experience of a brand’s products and add new ways for customers to experience them in both metaverse and traditional IRL contexts. 

The possibilities are endless. We’re doing collabs with partners that are even embracing digital-first approaches to the products and revenue streams. They do NFT drops of a metaverse wearable version of their product first to generate enthusiasm and early revenue, then add more value to the NFT by allowing the holders exclusive access to a community, content and early access events. They even allow token holders to vote on final design decisions before manufacturing the first run of the physical products. 

What is a commerce metaverse?

You can think of commerce metaverses as digital storefronts for brands, optimized for marketing and selling phygital products. They are a radically new and immersive way to engage consumers in social commerce around products. 

Commerce metaverses have four defining characteristics:

  1. They can provide venues in both public metaverses spaces such as Decentraland, CryptoVoxels and Meta Horizons, as well as white label spaces like those being created by leading brands such as Nike, Gucci, McLaren and many others,
  2. They are seamlessly integrated with and an extension of your ecommerce web experience,
  3. They are pre-integrated with the ecommerce tech stack that has evolved over the past 20 years, and 
  4. They provide the built-in services for brands to mint and define additional utility for NFTs for their products.

SwivelMeta is hard at work building out the first fully featured metaverse built for commerce - let us know if you’d like to join our community and learn more. 

SwivelMeta is collaborating with digital brands to build the first commerce-enabled metaverses

Cult&Rain is the brainchild of George Yang. They are a new kind of luxury fashion brand, born out of web3, with NFTs that have physical redeemables. They are leading the way in retail, exploring new revenue channels beyond traditional e-commerce, with physical and digital products, including digital avatar wearables.

As a web3 brand, Cult&Rain have focused on building their community and ensuring transparency about their brand, product strategy and production timeline. This transparency includes regular updates on the production of their physical products in Italy, at the same factories used by other luxury fashion brands, such as Gucci and Balenciaga.  

SwivelMeta is partnering with Cult&Rain to deliver a custom, multi-venue brand experience, CultrWorld, that includes a shop, lounge and game experiences. The first preview of Cult&Rain’s CultrWorld will be launched at Outernet London in late July, during a simultaneous IRL and virtual event.

Upon official launch of the CultrWorld Shop, the Cult&Rain community will be able to shop their products amongst other community members in the metaverse. The CultrWorld Lounge will be used to host numerous social and community events, including DJ sets and community chats, while others enjoy immersive game experiences in the Cultr Game room. 

CultrWorld is the first of many white label ecommerce metaverses Swivelmeta will launch with leading brands in the coming months. Please sign up here if you’d like to be notified of new projects, or explore one of your own.