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Black Friday is one of the most anticipated days of the year. After all, who doesn’t love good deals? Very soon, instead of waiting in long lines or searching through websites, you’ll be doing your Black Friday shopping in the metaverse as a superhero, anime character, or anything else you want to represent you. 

With wider adoption of the metaverse, consumers will have legitimate concerns on how their data is used. Just recall how Target knew about a teen-girl pregnancy even before her parents learned about it. The cool thing about the metaverse is that it not only revolutionizes the entire shopping experience; it also introduces a paradigm shift to how businesses treat user data. 

Shopping in Web2 vs. Web3

We all know how online shopping works. While we browse, a platform tracks our demographic information (age, gender, location), actions and interactions. In Web3 virtual worlds, users will decide whether they want to share any of their data, and more importantly, they could potentially get paid for granting access to their data. 

In the metaverse, user data is collected in a way that’s similar to shopping in real life. Consider a traditional supermarket: Cameras monitor and analyze the number of people in a specific location at a specific time, where they spend most of their time, and whether they look at products on the bottom, upper or highest shelves while shopping. Retailers can use the data they’ve collected to identify customer purchasing patterns and strategize product placement. Data can be collected about details like lighting, background music, mannequin placement, wallpaper and even employee uniforms and can be used to make decisions that impact customer behavior.  

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This is just a fraction of the data that can be easily collected in the metaverse. On top of that, 3D environments create a new layer of data analysis similar to tracking foot traffic in supermarkets. Users can also seamlessly leave their feedback about a product, for example, in a conversation with friends while walking in the virtual world. A retailer will immediately get that feedback rather than going to their company’s social media and spending time reviewing comments or complaints. 

This is how shopping will appear in the virtual world. Since data is controlled by users, retailers should become much more creative in building reward systems to incentivize users to give them access to their data. We will see how companies can be creative because they will have access to much more enriched data points than what they collect today. 

With 3D data analytics and machine learning technology application, retailers can optimize their virtual stores, from architectural suggestions for how to build virtual stores, to what height virtual shelves should be to accommodate different types of avatars (users will be represented by these alter egos), to how to locate virtual lands for traffic optimization purposes. 

The metaverse takes inspiration from Wikipedia

The metaverse companies that share the values of Web3 are already building fully open and transparent communities where users in each virtual landscape decide their own rules regarding data collection, data usage and data control. 

With the metaverse as a platform, companies can build necessary tools on top of it, address different needs and participate equally in this ecosystem, creating value for each other and gaining from it, including building useful tools to track user experience and other useful metrics. 

Those who are doubtful about this can consider the success of Wikipedia, which is based on a user-oriented ideology. By allowing the community to contribute, edit and verify the content, Wikipedia has grown into a resilient and vibrant platform. Web3 companies are trying to achieve the same result by creating a kind of a digital civil contract with users — forming relationships that would benefit the company and the customer equally, making the world fairer for everyone.

Batis Samadian is founder and CEO of SPACE.

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