For two years now, mainly due to the pandemic, there has been an ever-increasing number of internet users who spend more time online during the day. At the same time, small businesses are going through a phase of necessary restructuring of their offer and of the methods of meeting customers to satisfy their purchasing needs, which are now so highly digitized. These methods must therefore be rethought, which often puts small companies in front of some strategic difficulties, above all due to the confusion that arises when choosing the optimal digital configuration for their business, among the numerous tools, channels and solutions currently available.
Digital is a very effective way to expand the customer base and start or consolidate an internationalization process. However, it can also be a double-edged sword since adopting a digital product or service, if done hastily and superficially, can lead to poor results. Added to this is the extreme mobility of the digital sector, which for the digitalization of the company every day offers the attention of small businesses new products and services that are increasingly performing and specific. It is, therefore, essential to move according to a method that takes two main factors together:
- Medium / long-term vision, which allows structuring of a coherent digital growth path over time
- Availability for change keeps the company in a state of attention towards new proposals and solutions.
With these two strategic attitudes, small businesses can profitably face the imminent digital challenge, that is, the progressive transition to the metaverse as a new place for shopping. A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection and strongly pervaded by gamification logics. On this new digital frontier, companies are betting with a positive attitude: according to an Accenture survey, 71% of brands say they look very favorably to the metaverse, and 28% consider the metaverse a real revolution for business.
However, it is appropriate to make some distinctions because if, on the one hand, the newspapers and specialized newspapers report news of large multinationals that continue to invest considerable amounts in the development of this new technology to configure a metaverse that we would define as proprietary, on the contrary, small businesses will be able to benefit from the metaverse primarily or only as users. Therefore, it is essential to develop a gradual entry plan that allows you to position yourself correctly and effectively cut out a slice of the market. Here are six tips to get you started on the right foot.
Identify And Study Your Market Niche
Given that the metaverse is configured to all intents and purposes as a new market, into which the “old” customers are pouring but are looking for different ways of interacting with brands, the first step is to study carefully in which niche or specific segment you want to place your business, understand how consumers communicate and act in this niche and what they are looking for. This will help to understand which direction the company’s digital transformation should take and, consequently, which technologies can be exploited.
For example, companies that offer online services, which can be purchased and used instantly through a digital action, will have a decidedly different approach in the metaverse than those that provide physical products, which necessarily involve a logistics chain to be delivered to the recipient. In this regard, small businesses can begin to preliminarily take measured but decisive steps in the direction of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. to prepare the ground for more conscious exploitation of the potential of the metaverse.
If Needed, Consider Rebranding
With new technological initiatives and social platforms like new branding opportunities. It might therefore be appropriate to consider your business’s visual aspect carefully. Indeed, if, as mentioned, the metaverse is a virtual world based on social connection, it will be essential to reflect on connectivity and how it is communicated. For example, it will be central to know how to develop messages that clarify how vital communication is for the brand.
In this process, small businesses will have to reflect on the corporate values they intend to communicate, remembering that communication visually begins with the company logo. However, it is advisable to move cautiously to avoid entering the metaverse with an image distorted and not aligned with one’s “real” vision and the horizon of values one intends to convey. Generally, a rebranding is suggested if one or more of the following aspects emerge:
- The old corporate image is obsolete
- We are opening up to a new demographic segment
- A new competitor is taking away market share
- Values and mission have changed
- The reputation of the original brand has been damaged in some way
Take Advantage Of The Initiatives Of Large Companies
Before entering the metaverse in effect, it is strategic to use the digital opportunities already offered by the web giants to enter the world of e-commerce and understand its logic. Amazon Web Services is worth mentioning in this regard. Amazon’s pilot initiative aims to help small businesses open an e-commerce front with minimal effort, allow customers to search the database of small businesses that join, and foster the connection between business and consumers, both on the sales front and the sharing of values.
Another example: Facebook’s recent switch to Meta is not just a rebranding operation but will bring relevant updates for corporate accounts looking for new ways to communicate and connect with their audience in a metaverse direction. These kinds of opportunities and resources are likely to increase as technology progresses, so it is strategic for small businesses to monitor progress to take full advantage of them continuously.
Update Search Engine Activity
Webfx.com reports that more than half of business owners do not list their company on tools like Google Business Profile, a free online dashboard for small businesses, helpful in managing their online profiles on Google Maps, on the search engine and other products of the Google horizon. The tool allows companies to update their business information, post photos, share news and respond to customer reviews – all from one place.
Therefore, positioning and maintaining an online presence today is very simple compared to just a few years ago, but above all, it is crucial for a small business. Failure to do so exposes you to the risk of missing opportunities to drive traffic to the site or the company itself and driving away customers who can’t find the information they’re looking for. For this reason, it is essential to keep the information constantly updated (opening hours, any changes, access communications, etc.) also in order not to receive bad reviews.
Don’t Abandon The Old Ways Too Quickly
The essential aspect of any sale (online or offline) is giving customers what they want. Although the metaverse represents the next challenge for companies, more and more people and consumers are entering the metaverse. Although companies of all kinds are starting to enter the metaverse in a structured way, the metaverse today still takes shape as the place of tomorrow. And although it is undoubtedly strategic for small companies to think about tomorrow today, this should not deter them from continuing to live today.
In other words, the metaverse offers a real opportunity for growth and expansion of its customer base. Still, the fact remains that most consumers have not yet transited into the metaverse. The numbers confirm that users are currently not sufficiently attracted to the metaverse to believe they should attend it: a survey by Morning Consult highlights how 68% of the interviewees are of this opinion, against 32% of enthusiasts. However, this should not be discouraged because the number of enthusiasts is constantly growing.
Therefore, the phenomenon of the enlargement of the metaverse user base is undoubtedly progressive, but it will be slow. This offers an opportunity for small businesses, which have time to leisurely define their entry strategies and start positioning themselves in the metaverse. In doing this, the important thing is not to forget the current and more traditional contact and sales channels, which are the ones that customers continue to use and like most today.
It is clear to everyone how the future of business and internationalization is now and will be increasingly subject to strong pushes oriented toward advanced technology, which will lead to significant changes in how people experience products/services and interact with each other and with brands. It is therefore essential to take strategic steps towards the metaverse with adaptability, which appears to be perhaps the most critical characteristic to pursue to maintain its competitive and relevant business on the market, both in today’s physical world and in the metaverse of tomorrow.