Buying clothes in the Metaverse would be cool! Imagine donning a VR headset and teleporting into a simulation of your favorite clothing store filled with interactive clothes racks that feature an eye-catching array of t-shirts, shorts, jackets, and more.
Something catches your eye? You can grab it, hold it against your body – and bang! — your 3D metaverse avatar, an exact replica of you, is now wearing the jeans you just picked up. You walk over to the virtual mirror and examine yourself, wondering if it accentuates your posterior enough.
Satisfied with your behind, you decide to buy the jeans. You hand it to an AI cashier and it starts a back-end process where your bank account is charged $49.99 and your new jeans – the real those – heading to your porch in 24 hours.
While many companies have considered creating the aforementioned experience, there is a problem. Well, there are quite a few, actually. We may have made leaps and bounds with VR headsets like Meta Quest 2 finally starting to resonate with the general population (as opposed to niche gamers and enterprise users), but we still have a long, long way to go before you can shop at Walmart in the metaverse.
We spoke to Metaverse expert Dr. Rolf Illenberger, Managing Director of VRDirect (a technology company that helps businesses connect to VR platforms seamlessly) to give us more insight into the three challenges that thwart e-commerce in the metaverse.
1. Current-gen VR hardware just isn’t here yet
Of course, VR headsets have evolved incredibly over the years. For example, at one time head-mounted displays (HMDs) could only offer three degrees of freedom (3DoF). What is 3DoF? Without diving into a tedious and wordy answer, this basically means that you can only tilt your head three ways: forward/backward (as if looking at the ground or up at the sky), left/ straight (like you’re shaking your head “no”) and side to side (like you’re stretching your neck at the gym). In other words, 3DoF detects head movements – that’s it.
Now, VR headsets offer six degrees of freedom (6DoF). Not only can you look all around you, but the HMDs can track your position in space whether you decide to move forward or backward, parry left or right, and jump or crouch, providing more of immersion to virtual reality gamers who want to shoot zombies and dodge. their attacks, for example.
Despite the mind-boggling advancements in body tracking and sharper imaging, today’s VR headsets are still too basic for an immersive Metaverse shopping experience, according to Dr. Illenberger.
“The number one challenge is that VR headsets are not yet suitable for buying smaller fashion items. The resolution of the device is not good enough. You cannot buy a watch in VR. The resolution just isn’t there. You can’t buy clothes. That’s the only challenge, but we’ll overcome it once the headsets have better resolution, better quality of images,” he said. -he declares.
In other words, if you want to inspect an item in the metaverse with the intention of buying it, it just won’t be specific enough or clear enough for you to make an informed decision, especially when it’s are smaller products.
Some would say, however, that the HP Reverb G2touted as having the best resolution among consumer VR headsets (2160 x 2160 pixel resolution per eye), may be sharp enough to provide a decent metaverse shopping experience, but there’s another hurdle there (which we will be discussed in the next section).
2. The current VR adoption rate isn’t worth the investment
Even though the Reverb G2 has class-leading, industry-leading resolution, it’s not the best-selling VR headset – that trophy goes to the Meta Quest 2. Offering a resolution of 1,920 x 1,832 pixels per eye (compared to the HP Reverb G2’s 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye), the Meta Quest 2 isn’t going to deliver a satisfying metaverse shopping experience that rivals Loan player one immersion. And in the grand scheme of things, despite the success of Quest 2, VR adoption still hasn’t caught fire.
To give you a better perspective on the active VR market, there are 57.4 million VR users in the United States; it is only 15% of the population. What’s stopping the general public from diving headfirst into the world of virtual reality? According zippiait’s just too expensive.
“You still have too few helmets on the market,” said Dr Illenberger. “Even if Meta manages to get a million headsets, it’s nothing compared to the audience of Web 2.0 e-commerce” In other words, companies must temper their expectations if they want to launch a store in the metaverse . Additionally, Illenberger hinted that companies need to think long and hard about whether their target audience will flock to the metaverse to begin with, or else they risk barking up the proverbial wrong tree. For example, most virtual reality users are young men, according to Zippia, so if Victoria’s Secret decided to erect a store in the Metaverse, for example, the tumbleweeds would roll into the empty digital lingerie store.
Admittedly, a VR headset is not the only way to access metaverse applications. The Sandbox and Decentraland — blockchain-based platforms you can visit through your computer — were all the rage as “metaverse ecosystems” during the media frenzy surrounding user purchases digital real estate for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars. But at this point, launching an e-commerce presence on either platform would be futile.
“The question I often get is, ‘Can you help us build an e-commerce store in Decentraland or in Sandbox?'” Dr. Illenberger said. “And then I have to say to brands, ‘Decentraland and Sandbox are basically dead. You can invest in building digital stores there, but it’s a waste of money, so don’t go there. You’ve been deceived.
Finally, the backend infrastructure of VR headsets just isn’t polished enough to handle a smooth and efficient metaverse shopping experience, especially when it comes to payment. Even among new helmets like the Meta Quest Pro and the Peak 4Dr. Illenberger said they don’t offer fancy APIs to connect to purchasing systems, which made execution too tricky.
“What you know about web 2.0 stores where you can browse a catalog of products, put it in a cart, and then checkout […] – it doesn’t work in virtual reality because the technology isn’t there yet,” said Dr Illenberger. “We have to open the operating system, the APIs have to talk to each other, you have to have a credit card for the VR experience, so there’s more technically and operationally that you still have to overcome.”
At the end of the line
While companies like Meta give users the impression that e-commerce will soon be a “thing” in the Metaverse, Dr. Illenberger is skeptical, at least for the near future.
Big box retailers are use virtual reality, however, but they don’t use it to connect with consumers per se; they use it internally (eg employee training).
“When we talk about big brands like Walmart using virtual reality, in most cases it’s more of an employer-oriented application than a customer-oriented one. So Walmart started early on apps to train employees in social activities and customer relations,” Dr. Illenberger said.
Currently, most companies are experimenting with virtual reality with their employees. After all, training simulators reduce costs, gamify the experience, and invite better learning retention. That’s not to say you won’t one day try on clothes in virtual fitting rooms – we just need to wait for hardware and software to catch up with our lofty ambitions.