What is the Metaverse
The metaverse is a shared virtual space — created by combining physical reality, digital reality, and enhanced technology — accessed via a browser or headset, which allows people to share real time interactions and experiences even if they are physically separated by long distances.
The global metaverse market has witnessed rapid growth, and now it is projected that the metaverse will be worth more than USD 1.6 trillion by 2030. Many factors have been driving the growth of the metaverse market, such as a rise in demand for media and entertainment as well as the gaming industry, evolving opportunities from adjacent markets such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), as well as the digitalization in art, fashion, retail industries and more.
Many tech giants have already invested heavily in the metaverse, including as Meta, Microsoft, Adobe, Tencent and more. Many people at SAP also believe that the metaverse is the future of the internet, and some might be wondering, what might be SAP’s role in the metaverse, and what solution can we offer?
In this blog we hope to discuss one possibility SAP can offer in the metaverse, by showcasing an innovative project done by the SAP Japan Innovation Office team.
The customer of this project was a furniture and household appliance enterprise based in Japan. For years, this customer has been struggling with their sales on the e-commerce site due to three main reasons:
- When the shoppers go into the store, they would typically purchase multiple products and making impulse buying decision at the spur of the moment. However, on the e-commerce site, the shoppers only see what they search for and don’t have chance to encounter other interesting products which they were not expecting of.
- From the e-commerce site, there is no live support, therefore very difficult to ask questions about the product in real time and make decision.
- When it comes to color, texture, size of the products, there are often gaps between the photos and the actual product, shoppers cannot confirm the details easily and selling opportunities can be wasted.
The furniture company was in the process of considering changing the future commerce platform. His vision and goal was the expansion of stores overseas, enhancement of the e-commerce site, and expansion of the product categories and brands offered.
Their e-commerce site was built on on-premises system, and the infrastructure was getting outdated. Additionally, the CEO of this company also has a long-term vision of the future related to metaverse and was looking for advice from SAP.
Team Formation & SAP Technology
After working with the Japan CX Sales and Presales to understand the customer challenge, the Japan Innovation Office quickly formed a tactical team including a Customer Innovation Principal, UX Designer, and an IoT & Database Specialist. Together, the team designed and built an immersive solution addressing the customer needs.
The demo tells the story of a 30-year-old customer named Rina, and her experience furniture shopping in the metaverse. Her journey begins with walking into the store, looking for a sofa to purchase and interacting with the store staff. In this demo, she was able to choose a sofa based on the recommendation of store staff, add it to her shopping cart, and make a few purchases as she enjoys her metaverse journey.
The solution was built entirely on the Unity platform. SAP technology is open, and it is possible to access SAP solutions and data using many types of devices. SAP BTP allows very flexible integration, and metaverse was no exception.
This demo allowed our team to showcase a technology prototype closely tailored to what our customer was looking for. From vision to incorporating feedback, we quickly iterated to build a clear picture of the customers needs. In addition, we wanted to define not only the consumer metaverse experience, but also the overall architecture of what would be required of the underlying e-commerce site and product management.
With this solution in place, online shop visitors will be able to:
- Experience products through 3D showrooms
With the metaverse experience, now shoppers can enjoy a furniture shopping experience through a virtual showroom. Metaverse allows shoppers to get a full 360-degree view of the furniture, and to freely experiment with colors and options. Shoppers can click into the items to see product details, view comments, and add it to their shopping cart.
- View additional recommended products on the floor
Purchase additional items such as lighting or wall poster, based on the staff recommendations or by walking around the floor. Even large items which would be impractical to move in real life can easily be moved or situated together to better imagine their appearance in the shopper’s home.
- Direct customer service interaction in the metaverse
In the metaverse, shoppers and customer service staff are both active users. Shoppers can ask a question to the store staff and get immediate responses through chat box or a voice chat.
With this solution, the customer will be able to increase their revenue, as well as collect information to better understand their shoppers. Compared with in-store shopping, the furniture shop has more methods to collect customer data for performance analytics thanks to the metaverse account registration. Such data allows the store to exceed consumer expectations by offering personalized communications and appealing suggestions for future shopping.
The metaverse itself is a powerful concept and can be utilized in many different products and services. However, it is still important to prioritize delivering a seamless user experience. This can be accomplished by combining immersive design with smart consumer content that can not only insert itself into the virtual world, but also encourage the customers to interact and communicate with the store.
Taking this furniture and household appliance enterprise as an example, if there is a difference in product prices and information handled by each channel, it is very likely user satisfaction will decrease.
In the future, the importance of integrated product management will continue to grow, not only in the metaverse, but also in terms of needing to continuously and quickly respond to changes such as the use of new media, live commerce and corporate acquisitions. This is in addition to the migration from the existing e-commerce site. It is also important to help the enterprise reduce the time spent by intelligently utilizing existing product information and developing add-ons to the existing infrastructure
This blog is authored by Yu Ning Wang, Tomoko Takeuchi, Naoto Saka, and edited by Christopher Williams. We are looking forward to your comments and discussion.