It’s a lazy rainy weekend. After canceling an outdoor plan, you decide to hang out in the metaverse instead. You go to a virtual exhibition where your favorite sneaker brand is showcasing their latest drop. As your web3 wallet is scanned for the needed credentials, you receive a notification saying you are qualified to mint a pair of NFT sneakers, which can be worn in a series of vỉtual worlds. You also want the physical ones, so the virtual shop assistant redirects you to the e-commerce site where you can choose sizes and colors using the AR try-on feature. You pay with your wallet. Your order is registered. Next week you can pick it up in-store.
“Not bad for a rainy day”, you think.
This is a glimpse into the future of retail powered by web3 technology & NFTs. Imagine being able to connect with your brands, try items, receive personalized services, and attend immersive events regardless of where you are. From physical to digital to the metaverse. That will be omnichannel at its best.
WHAT IS OMNICHANNEL?
More than 20 years ago, the word “multi-channel” was first introduced to the marketing world as the ability to “meet our customer's needs anytime, anywhere, anyway”. 10 years later, the concept was morphed into “omni-channel”, which then gave birth to a myriad of industry jargon like "cross-channel integration", "seamless shopping", "unified commerce", and so on. The focus is now shifted from the channels to the customers. At its heart, omnichannel is about providing relevant, consistent services to the same individual seamlessly across multiple touchpoints. An ideal omnichannel experience nowadays would allow synergies between brick & mortar, text messages, emailing, social media, mobile app, and online shopping.
With the rapid rise of smartphones & Internet of Things, omnichannel has evolved from an unfamiliar concept to a trendy buzzword, and finally a necessity of modern marketing.
THREE PERENNIAL CHALLENGES OF TODAY’S OMNICHANNEL
Although many brands have tried to develop an omnichannel strategy, few have succeeded in building a cohesive customer experience. Reasons are varied, but there are three things in common:
We face a hard time connecting the dots
Customers are using multiple devices, from product research to purchase, making it increasingly difficult for brands to integrate data from different channels. Furthermore, corporate data sets are often scattered across varied IT infrastructure, making it difficult to retrieve all information on individual consumers and form a single view of them. Some data may even be located in affiliate or third-party networks.
Navigating the data privacy maze
Besides the challenge of integrating first-party and third-party, there is a major pitfall in the governing of customer data. Since the GDPR took effect in May 2018, there have been over 900 fines issued across Europe and the U.K. Recent years saw serious security incidents involving numerous high-profile companies such as Amazon ($877 million), Google Ireland ($102 million), Whatsapp ($225 million), and Facebook ($90 million). Data breaches are taking a toll on customer loyalty, as consumers will shy away from companies that they don’t feel safe conducting business with.
Acquiring up-to-date information
Then comes the challenge of having quality data. Although users leave behind a valuable data footprint (including contact numbers, email ids, addresses), 60% of this data is outdated within two years according to Neustar. 37% of the people in the US change their contact details within a year, making your data obsolete.
THE BIG PICTURE
For the better part of a decade, the arrival of Digital has brought drastic changes to Physical retailing. But data still remains a major stumbling block to make omnichannel coherent.
As we think about it in the grand scheme of things, the real issue here lies in the fact that we’re over-relying on the customer-focused model, where location-tracking and other kinds of personally identifiable information dictate everything we know about our customers. As someone puts it: “Delivering a great omnichannel customer experience (under this scheme) is like playing the world’s hardest game of Connect the Dots. Only the dots are fleas: each touchpoint is barely visible and hopping around like crazy”.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, we are seeing various technologies accelerating and converging to adapt to new customer behaviors and expectations. The Immersive world, or the metaverse, is bringing various opportunities for forward-thinking brands. Not only will it add a new playground for retailers, its interoperability and secure-by-design nature will be the building blocks to solidify our vision for omnichannel retail.
Physical-Digital-Immersive is the new trifecta of omnichannel for brands.
OPPORTUNITIES IN THE METAVERSE
Two fundamental components of the metaverse are Tokens (NFTs) and Wallets. In the same way that websites are the primitive to the internet, tokens are the new digital primitive in the metaverse, but superior because they are fully portable and owned by the user. When coupled with public wallets where they reside, NFTs become the solution for seamless customer experience across channels.
Thanks to blockchain technology, data revolving around wallet & product usage allows for personalization and meaningful engagement, with full respect for user privacy. That’s a lot of jargon, but panic not. Let us explain further.
Owing to the very nature of blockchain, every single transaction is recorded and made accessible to everyone, including details such as the amount, time, the wallet money was sent from, and the wallet that received the money. While wallet records are open to the public, there is no inbuilt system to identify who the owner is. What’s also interesting is that NFTs are usually kept in a wallet.
Now, imagine if all (physical or digital) products are turned into NFTs, then you as a marketer can start to get an idea of what has been bought by a particular wallet. Not only can you see what has been purchased from your own brand, but also from other brands. At the end of the day, what someone holds in their wallet can tell a lot about them: their spending power, their taste, the communities they are in, what they are entitled to, etc.
Thanks to wallets, for the first time ever, brands are invited to peek into consumers’ walk-in closet. That’s hyper-targeted marketing: more accurate information, but never at the expense of user privacy.
A WALLET-BASED CONSUMER JOURNEY
When a product is tokenized into an NFT, it becomes a valuable tool for omnichannel communications, serving as the single login the user would ever need to identify himself across multiple interconnected environments, from in-real-life, to web2, web3 and the IoT.
To put things in perspective, let’s consider this user journey:
You are invited to the grand opening of a brand A’s flagship store in Paris. You buy a bag and receive two tokens: a digital twin of the bag & an attendance token (as a souvenir of the event). You store the tokens in a wallet.
A few months later, you receive an in-app notification announcing early access to brand A’s new drop. Using your wallet, you log into the website without friction. A banner pops up, offering a 10% discount for attendance-token-holders only. Based on what you’re holding in your wallet, the website suggests matching items to complete your look. Its suggestions are great, so you end up buying a new jacket.
Later in the day, you use your wallet to log in to Decentraland and join an event by project X. As a VIP, you receive a complimentary token from the project.
One day, you realize the zipper on your jacket isn’t working. So you bring it to the store for a retouch. The store assistance scans a QR code in your wallet. As simple as that, proof of purchase is verified; the item is taken for maintenance. No questions asked. No personal information given. Going home, you receive real-time updates and ETA on your wallet.
Since you’re a VIC of brand A and a token holder of NFT project X, you are qualified to join an exclusive experience by brand B. You receive their invite in the form of a token airdropped directly to your wallet.
You’re a happy customer.
HOW TO INTEGRATE NFTS INTO YOUR OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY?
During the last NFT Breakfast at Arianee, our guest speaker Ian Rogers (former CDO @LVMH and now CXO @Ledger) said: “If I were in charge of a brand, everything I sell would come with an NFT". In fact, McKinsey’s State of Fashion 2022 report predicted that NFTs are likely to become a staple for retail this year. For those of you who want to integrate NFTs in your omnichannel strategy, here are the seven steps to do so:
● Define the NFT use case (e.g. Digital Twins, Digital-native Asset, Attendance Token)
● Decide the utility that comes with the NFT (e.g. AR, metaverse ready, access, services, resell, invitation, airdrop, etc…). Find a trusted partner to help you determine the appropriate blockchain & mint your NFTs.
Tip: the ideal partner would support multi chains to enable interoperability of the NFTs across different blockchains.
● Work on your communication plan: which channels to distribute, which digital trigger methods (QR code, NFC chip), what is the customer journey, etc.
Tip: create a multi-disciplinary experience around the NFTs to energize users.
● Distribute NFTs through various IRL or online environments
● Analyze your customer behaviors
● Identify additional opportunities (future roadmap) to continuously bring added value to your NFT holders
INTO THE METAVERSE COMMERCE
“Organizations can't stop the world from changing. The best they can do is adapt. The smart ones change before they have to. The lucky ones manage to scramble and adjust when push comes to shove. The rest are losers, and they become history.”
This quote from Price Pritchett perfectly encapsulates our take on how businesses should behave in times of changes. NFTs are the real estate of the metaverse. The sooner you start distributing NFTs to your client, the more you build your legacy and regain control over your relation with customers.
It's also important to note that experiences and services are built on top of NFTs, not the other way around. In other words, NFTs should be created with a sense of purpose and utility in mind, rather than being an ornament to your offerings.
Lastly, the metaverse is not a destination, but a layer tightly integrated into our world IRL. It is crucial that brands develop an omnichannel strategy that adds connectivity and empowers users on the go, wherever and whenever. Those who are preparing today will be the most successful and resilient tomorrow.