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The V-volution of Shopping: From Street Market to MetaTown

Since the inception of civilization, humans have traded together; in 3000 BC the first street market was recorded, and it is here that the social environment around the common marketplace was established. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has existed since 1455 and continues to function today, making it the longest established marketplace in the world. It is a scene of hustle, bustle and bartering, brimming with social interaction.


These days, the traditional ‘common’ market is a rarity, with the physical gathering of people seldom occurring due to the exponential growth of e-commerce around the globe. Today, shopping is often somewhat of an antisocial and singular experience, conducted online via the Internet or apps, which contests people's instinct to interact with one another. The emergence of Web 2.0, an Internet focused on social networking, content generated by users, and cloud computing, increased popularity around sites such as Facebook and Instagram, where users share their own content and connect with others across the globe. This has led to the use of social commerce on websites including blogging, podcasting, participation in social networks and the creation and sharing of content by customers and influencers. This all enriches customer's experience when visiting e-commerce sites however, the Internet and e-commerce have not changed much since Web 2.0. In the midst of slowing economic activity, COVID 19 has however prompted a surge in e-commerce and accelerated digital transformation.



The pandemic has played an instrumental role in the rapid acceleration of the technology surrounding the Metaverse and Web 3.0. In 2020, we saw a 77% increase in the volume of online transactions, which is supported by 67% of people disclosing that their shopping habits had permanently shifted and 88% saying there was an expectation that companies would accelerate their digital efforts. Businesses had no choice but to respond, now there are 30% more organisations based online than in 2019.


The shift to e-commerce from consumers, along with their want for unique experiences, has led to the creation of V-commerce which simply refers to the buying and selling of goods with the help of virtual and augmented reality technology. Even though the Metaverse does not exist yet, v-commerce brings us one step closer to it becoming a reality, allowing us to shop in a virtual reality setting, whereas previously, we would scroll through lists of products on e-commerce sites.


Surprisingly, almost 70% of shoppers abandon their carts before completing a purchase but VR could be able to change this for businesses as consumers are given the opportunity to experience products online like never before, helping improve conversion rates but also reduce returns for businesses and help them overcome physical virtual limitations. Retailers can also use VR to create virtual versions of their physical stock/premises which can be continuously modified to meet changing

consumer tastes and product preferences or create a new store concept, as the possibilities of virtual reality are endless.


Due to the pandemic, a recent stand out theme has been the continuing flourish of online business models, which is forecast to continue into a long-term trend. Interactive digital environments and investment in e-commerce seem to be at the forefront of businesses strategies, seeking fresh approaches to online creativity and commerce. Some brands have ventured into the digital world with nonfungible tokens, gaming skins and virtual fashion, rolling out virtual stores and digital events.


BrandLab360 are a collection of groundbreaking innovators and global pioneers of V-commerce. As one of the earliest adopters of Metaverse style technology, their platform enables companies and corporations of all sizes to elevate their businesses, using virtual reality and gamification. MetaTown by BrandLab360 is a new virtual world launching this year, introducing V-commerce to the Metaverse. The fully immersive virtual world allows anyone to shop, explore, transact and interact, via a web browser. It is a secure environment to host and trade NFT's, with their very own digital currency and to purchase consumer goods in our unique virtual shopping districts.


In MetaTown, users will be empowered to use gamification controls, to simply manoeuvre through the retail store as an avatar, pick up products and view interactive information surrounding each product. Furthermore, they will have the ability to transact, via a seamless link to your current e-commerce site/purchasing system. The user experience will include the ability to interact with customer service advisors and/or friends, family and peers via a live video chat system. Their bespoke data and analytics provide you with statistics on when customers enter and leave your store.


The creators of Metatown are no strangers to the ease that comes from shopping online and bringing people together to do the things they love, is at the core of their ethos. They strive for a better future, reintroducing human interaction to the Internet and the way we shop, play and work online. Web 3.0 will allow customers to congregate with their friends, discuss products, get opinions, and see clothing like never before, to understand it’s shape and texture, far better than a two-dimensional image. These factors also contribute to a radical reduction in returned items, improving sustainability and social impact, as it leads to a noticeable decrease in emissions.

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