Will the metaverse change global trade?

November 24, 2021 by
Frank Calviño
Virtual reality device by Jessica Lewis for Unsplash

Short answer? Yes, a lot. But let us start from the beginning by explaining what truly is the metaverse so we can grasp the real deal behind all this. And no, the metaverse is not the latest marketing cantrip of Mr. Zuckerberg. 

If something, his idea of calling Meta the parent company of the former Facebook conglomerated, is but a gimmick to the real thing that the metaverse is. 

The metaverse is an idea that has been around in the mind of programmers and tech-savvy intellectuals since at least the year 2000. It revolves around creating - and inhabiting - persistent online environments. 

Sounds a little bit like a mumbo jumbo? Well, that is because it is a kind of abstraction so elevated, that until a few years ago it was only conceived by the general public as part of sci-fi movies. We are talking about The Matrix, but also about things like Sword Art Online, Tron, or Total Recall, or many of Isaac Asimov’s books. The idea behind the metaverse is an old concept intermingled in the pop-culture background of both western and easter societies: an alternated reality created by science - by computer science actually - in which we are trapped, voluntarily or involuntarily.  

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But, is this the Metaverse Mr. Zuckerberg was thinking about when he rebranded Facebook? Surely not. The Metaverse he was thinking about is already halfway here… and you are already living on it. 

What is the real metaverse? 

The real metaverse is the creation of permanent online environments. And that ship sailed a long, long time ago when the first online forums were created. These “semi-permanent” environments evolved into living things. Rules and moderatos had to be implemented, and people got used, pretty fast, to exchange things - primarily ideas - via online recurrent interactions. 

The concept behind things like Microsoft Messanger is the same concept that will define the metaverse for commerce and in general. 

???? The massive increase in global internet speeds - Monaco, Hong Kong, and Chile have reached already speeds over 260 Mbps -  in combination with social media instantaneous information exchange capabilities makes has lifted all barriers for a global continuous environment. ????

The real metaverse is already in progress: huge global marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba are, by definition, part of the metaverse. But what Zuckerberg means when he talks about the “future metaverse” is the full integration of marketplaces, social media, bank systems, email systems, search engines, recreational software, and every single piece of data that is accessible online. 

The metaverse, at least the real one, is conceived as a network of intermingling information with minimal to zero retard in data access for all the people, in all the world. This is huge for trade. 

What will be an avatar in the metaverse? 

Perhaps one of the things that have baffled people the most, is the concept of an “avatar”. A digital identity that will be one and only one, for you, throughout all the services, software, and digital environments of the metaverse. 

Currently, the best way to explain this is to highlight the fact that your social media profiles are not necessarily connected. Meaning, your Twitter is not connected to your Gmail, or to your Facebook. You are, effectively from a data perspective, three different persons. One of the goals of the metaverse is to end this: your avatar will carry all of your information and will work on every single digital environment carrying your data in that environment. You will be one single entity, from an online perspective. 

This will surely impact search engine optimization - granting a higher degree of access to information for profiling and marketing purposes - as well as legal, baking, and many, many other database services. 

Will the metaverse improve trade or hamper it? 

Neither, it will change it into a far more efficient, 24/7 automated approach. And this will bring good things and bad, side by side. The reduction or eradication of retard - delays in access to information - will level the playfield. Making some companies lose their competitive advantage of years of direct communication with suppliers or customers. But it will also make it far easier to find new suppliers and new customers. 

What will mean for your business that both you and your competition can access a supplier from any part of the world, at any given moment, and get your goods delivered to whichever place you wish, regardless of date or time? Same thing for your customers. Changes the game isn’t? This will be achieved by the metaverse - at the software level - and by the full automatization of supply chains. A process that is already starting at the warehouse level. 

???? Currently, only 20% of global warehouses are fully automated. But this number is growing exponentially. In 2021 is estimated to witness a growth of almost 38%. By 2025 most of the warehouses in the world will be partially - or entirely - automated and drone operated ????

Now add to all this, the possibility of working remotely - even when doing physical jobs thanks to the use of drone devices - and also the possibility of receiving medical care remotely - by drones again - visiting “virtual” places for fun, or interacting in virtual call - maybe even holographic - video calls to do business… and you get the full spectrum of what the future metaverse could be: a permanent online existence defined by global services for entertainment and education. A true global culture for humanity. 

How global trade will be re-defined under the metaverse? 

The most obvious changes will be the consolidation of a global unified market, the automatization of supply chains, and the empowerment of a global culture. 

This last bit will be, perhaps, one of the trickiest ones: a global culture means that your products will need to appeal to people both in China and Germany at the same time. And although you will have things that will be “global” in this scenario, your marketing strategies will need to be finetuned to become efficient in all markets, regardless of the local culture. Because you will be competing against other traders, suppliers, and businesses from all over the world, that now, will be able to sell in any market on the planet. 

Here is where the avatar part we mentioned before, becomes immensely relevant and the reason why Mr. Zukerberg wanted to be a pioneer on the metaverse: one single identity will be vital for companies to profile an individual with ease and speed, in order to provide a sales offer that will be effective. 

To summarize, the metaverse will impact global trade in the fields of: 

  

  • Robotization and automatization of supply chain and delivery processes 
  • Faster speeds of delivery for goods and wares. Not bound by human limitations. 
  • Global access to a global market for anyone at the same time and speed. 
  • Data integration from all platforms and media into a single avatar. 
  • A true global culture. 
  • Global standards for shipping 
  • Localization of products will be mandatory most of the times 
  • Suppliers and customers will be reachable from any part of the world 

All in all, the metaverse will be a milestone for humanity. It will solidify the idea of global human culture, establish standards for global continuous  24/7 automated trade and change the way we understand markets forever.  

Are you ready for the metaverse? 

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