artistic view on virtual reality

The Digital Retailer with John Readman: is the Metaverse worth the hype?

The metaverse is a hot topic in the retail field today. It’s something that the biggest brands and names are getting involved with, but smaller brands might not be sure what the fuss is all about. Not only that, but more questions are now being raised about what the metaverse really is and what it has to offer. Is it something you should be getting involved with? To find out, we sat down with John Readman. To hear the whole story, listen here!

Below is an excerpt of our talk. Read on to find out:

  • What the metaverse is
  • What opportunities the metaverse has
  • How retailers should react

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse should be understood first and foremost as a concept, and one that speaks to what a lot of people originally expected the internet to be. It’s a digital space where stores and their customers can have a more immersive experience, in much the same way they do in the real world. Currently, online shopping is “flat,” in that it doesn’t offer the kinds of interactive experiences that in-person purchases create.

But metaverse shopping provides an absorbing experience that allows people to focus on the brand they’re buying from, what they’re really getting for their money, and the feeling that comes with the product. For customers, that can lead to many more purchases because they feel as though they’re building relationships with the companies they’re buying from.

What are the opportunities for retailers in the Metaverse?

For retailers, there are many opportunities within the metaverse. One of the most popular options for retailers right now is through avatars and Memojis (emojis meant to represent you, personally, as an individual). For example, there are places online where you can add branded products to your online “look”. If you want your avatar to wear Nike products, or your Memoji to have Air Jordans, it’s possible in some places.

Retailers are essentially selling virtual versions of their products, for your use in the virtual world. Your online representative, such as your avatar, can “shop” for the things it needs to play games, be present in various spaces, and more fully represent you in the online world. While that doesn’t work for everyone, it’s becoming increasingly more popular through games and platforms such as Fortnite.

How should the retail industry react?

As for how the retail industry should react, that’s a very good question. It’s also not a question with a particularly easy answer. For big companies that are able to spend a lot of time and advertising money on the metaverse, getting in on the ground floor can make sense. Smaller companies may not have the same kind of opportunity, though, which means they may want to hold off on getting involved in what the metaverse has to offer.

The ability to get involved in the metaverse isn’t what the focus should be for the majority of medium-sized and smaller retailers, because the barriers to entry and price of admission are often quite high. Instead of choosing to get started on the metaverse right away, savvy retailers may want to wait until they see where it’s going. It’s still a relatively new concept, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll take off and be successful.

The concept of paying real money for virtual items isn’t a new one, but it’s one that a lot of people still aren’t onboard with. Retailers who want to be part of the metaverse should proceed with caution. You don’t want to get left behind if it takes off, but it’s a good idea to play it a little safer for now.


Like all new innovations that threaten to take the world by storm, time will tell whether the metaverse becomes ubiquitous in the world of retail, or will be seen in years to come as a flash in the pan, much like other feted entries which fizzled away like Google Glass. In the meantime, brands which can take advantage of the ‘wow’ factor that the metaverse provides right now can benefit from getting in on the ground floor, while also hedging their bets and entering with the knowledge that it might not last as long as its evangelists believe.

A big thank you to John Readman for sharing his insights with us! You can follow him on Linkedin and Twitter for the latest insights on the future of digital marketing.