September 29, 2023

The Future of a Virtual Marketplace

The new reality of a Web3 based internet opens doors for NFT creators and investors alike. Through mediums such as the Metaverse, NFT enthusiasts are presented with an online storefront to buy and sell their art. My team has had the pleasure of utilizing some of these techniques, and as the world moves further into the Web3 space from Web2 we’re going to begin to see even non-NFT niches move towards the Metaverse to take advantage of its benefits. Traditional storefronts have began utilizing a method known as Augmented Reality (AR) where customers are presented with an interactive experience of a real-world environment. The objects that exist in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information travelling across an array of mediums. AR has existed since 1957 when cinematographer Morton Heilig delivered an interactive experience of a film to viewers where they could have the illusion of real visuals, sounds, vibrations, and smells. This process wasn’t computer controlled, but it presented an experience that checked off all the major boxes AR has today.

Augmented Reality saw minor glimpses of progress since the late 1950s but didn’t gain real traction for the everyday-consumer until the mid-2010s when businesses and storefronts took advantage of their futuristic properties while also providing a simple and fun interface to buy physical products. AR is not to be confused with Virtual Reality (VR) since AR utilizes properties of the real world and VR does not. The Metaverse can be experienced utilizing VR, but it can also be bridged using AR as well. The Metaverse may also be accessed using a form of third-person VR, where a user can experience a pseudo-reality as a virtual character. The user can point, walk, click, and interact with objects within the virtual space without the use of VR technology. NFT creators and traditional businesses alike can utilize virtual storefronts in the metaverse that they can use to market and sell their products. These methods provide a plethora of benefits along with a shortlist of cons. The benefits include the opportunity to pay little to no rent to market and sell products, while retaining the ability to interact with potential customers in real time. Store owners can talk to consumers, ask questions, and make sales while providing the consumer with a pressure-free experience to shop around as they please. Some other benefits include the potential to host concerts, public speakers, comedians, and others to provide customers with a form of entertainment while shopping. This works as a win-win for both the store owner and the performer(s).

The biggest con for store owners is the lack of physical contact their consumers will have with their products. If you’re going to buy a pair of shoes, what do you usually do? You’d most likely try the shoes on, test out a few different sizes to see which one fits the best, and feel the texture of the shoes themselves to make sure they’re the ones you’re looking for. Old-school consumers may have doubts about purchasing products online, let alone in a virtual marketplace. The bottom line is – anything that serves as a pioneer in a vastly unexplored niche will undoubtedly face setbacks. Heck, even the internet itself faced severe backlash in the mid-1990s, and today over 97% of Americans would be lost without it. From the dark ages of Web1 to the hidden passageways of Web3, the journey of the internet adventurer must be paved by those who are excited about the advantages and unfazed by the setbacks.

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