The high street of the future: What the Metaverse means for small businesses

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

We hear the word metaverse constantly in business and culture right now, but what is it? How is it relevant to small businesses and entrepreneurs? How can small businesses get involved and harness the new multifaceted, virtual world?

To help answer some of these questions, we’ve worked with Georgie Barrat, a tech expert who’s best known for presenting Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, to help us gaze into the future for small businesses – revealing the opportunities available, the new avenues to explore, and explaining how old practices will be revolutionised by the metaverse. 

From our survey, we predict that it could take just 15 years for the metaverse to go mainstream and that a third of Brits plan to use it for online shopping. From hi-tech retail to virtual estate agents, we reveal what the high street in the metaverse could look like, and what it means for small businesses.

How small businesses can harness the metaverse 

Tips by Georgie Barrat

●  Revolutionise customer support: Customer support will be made easier through augmented reality (AR). Call-outs could be done virtually and AI assistants will be able to respond to frequently asked questions. The metaverse will allow small business owners to see and point to objects when advising customers, making it easier to give advice if a customer is struggling to assemble or fix a product or seeking guidance. 

●  Adapt your marketing & design for the metaverse: While the metaverse will create a lot of new opportunities, in some cases it’s about taking what you’re doing and adapting it to this virtual world. From a search perspective, local shops, restaurants, and salons could use Google’s AR/VR tech to provide customers with a 3D experience of their listing. Some see the metaverse as the future of social media, so keep a close eye on platforms like Meta and Snap Inc., which are already active in this space and are shaping opportunities for business. In terms of design, 3D modelling, and 360 videos will be key to creating virtual artefacts and locations. With interoperability being an important feature of the metaverse, content will need to work across the spectrum as users move between worlds.

●  Create an inspiring and unique space: The metaverse allows small businesses to build virtual environments that can tell their story in ways they never have before, not bound by location, budget or even feasibility. Your metaverse ‘shop front’, where consumers interact with products or services, could be on a beach, in outer space or behind a waterfall. A virtual showroom could be sleek paired back white space to chat with clients. Headsets and motion trackers will convey the nuances of body language, facial expressions, and tone, allowing you to connect with customers in a very personalised manner.

●  Offer a virtual ‘Try Before You Buy’: Within a virtual high street, it’s not a stretch to imagine customers using their digital twin to try on virtual clothes. AR allows people to see what a product will look like on them or place it in situ. Brands are already using this technology to allow customers to try on makeup, glasses, or place furniture in their homes. This tech is applicable to a range of small businesses including retailers, hairdressers & salons, interior designers, and estate agents.

●  Consider how your product holds value in the metaverse: The metaverse will have its own economy. In fact, we are already seeing very lucrative examples of this in the likes of NFTs, the digital real estate market in games like Decentraland and brands selling clothes (or skins as they’re known) for people to dress their avatars in. So as a small business could you adapt your in-person product or service to be used in the metaverse? Just like a normal economy entertainment, fashion, design, art, advertising, and services will all hold value.