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While buzz has surrounded the supposed infinite potential of the metaverse and AR/VR technology as tools for future online marketplaces, there has also been a decline in revenue for several ecommerce companies in recent years, leading some organizations to go back to the drawing board when it comes to good digital CX. A new report from Productsup has surveyed consumers’ tastes and expectations when it comes to digital hybrid shopping experiences, with a particular focus on sustainability and the metaverse. For many companies looking to boost sales in the digital marketplace, the results illustrate an uphill battle: according to the report, 60% of shoppers have zero interest in buying virtual goods whatsoever.

With revenue from the metaverse expected to reach $800 billion in 2024, it’s no wonder that forward-thinking organizations might be eager to cater to customers who aren’t quite yet interested in online-only spending. Overall, the results from Productsup’s report indicate that customers are chiefly keen on digital CX that offers transparency, accessibility and availability.

In the past decade, sustainability and DEI initiatives have risen to the forefront of consumers’ minds; as they decide on whether to purchase a company’s product, they’re more and more likely to inquire about the why and how a said product is made. Consumers tend to avoid products that’ll end up in a landfill, and instead prefer ones that are reusable (71%) or recyclable (70%). Despite this, consumers say information on a product’s reusability (34%) and recyclability (30%) can be difficult to find.

Across the board, Gen Z consumers are more likely to buy products from the metaverse vs. their older counterparts.
Source: Productsup

It’s no longer enough to include a “fair trade” or “biodegradable” label on your paper coffee cups, for example — not only do 43% of consumers want a detailed explanation as to how the product is biodegradable, but 40% also want information that proves that the product aligns with its “sustainable” label. “Consumers aren’t distracted by ‘greenwashing,'” said Lisette Huyskamp, chief marketing officer at Productsup. “[Their] expectations can’t be met unless product information is managed with a strong P2C [product-to-consumer] strategy.”

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While consumers across all generations want more product information, how best to present said information depends on each generation. Gen Z welcomes the advent of the metaverse and digital-only shopping much more readily than their older counterparts. Similarly, Gen Z is much more likely to prefer information that’s presented via online comparisons (40%) or QR codes (37%). On the other end of the generational spectrum, those 55 years or older tend to prefer information that’s easy to find and contained within the product description itself.

Finally, customers tend not to want an “either/or” shopping experience; i.e., they want access to product information and deals that are accessible in both the metaverse and the store. Roughly an equal amount of consumers have indicated they’re more likely to buy a product if a deal is offered exclusively in a store vs. online (55% vs. 54% respectively), meaning that companies should offer coupons and sales in both physical and digital venues. Technology that blends physical and digital shopping is also welcomed: 47% of consumers would make a purchase if they could access product information via a store’s mobile app while they’re shopping in-person, for example. The use of augmented reality (AR) technology, such as smart mirrors and mobile filters, could also be used to motivate consumers at the store (41%) or on the company’s website (42%).

All in all, the results indicate that while many consumers are looking forward to the expected increases in speed, convenience and information offered by the metaverse and other digital marketplaces, they’re not quite yet willing to abandon the tried-and-true methods of decades past. “In today’s commerce world, brands and retailers need to deliver nuanced experiences tailored to consumers wherever they shop,” said Huyskamp.

Productsup’s report is based on a survey of nearly 5,700 consumers age 16 and up across the U.S. and Europe, asking about their preferences, expectations and behavior toward hybrid shopping experiences.

Read the full report by Productsup.

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