Flipkart on Monday rolled out a week-long experience of shopping on its metaverse-based platform, Flipverse. The feature has been rolled out only to Android customers, which the company says is its majority shopper base, as the e-tailer targets further sales from the tier-2 and beyond cities.
Tier-2 and beyond regions have accounted for a majority of the sales this festive season, with about 65% of the total gross merchandise value (GMV) coming from those cities alone, according to various analysts. The festive sale, which runs from end-September to October-end, is expected to mop up around $11.8 billion in GMV, Redseer had earlier predicted, about 28% higher than last year.
On Flipverse – a partnership between Flipkart and eDAO – the company aims to replicate a shopping mall-like experience where customers can create their own avatars and virtually shop, alongside other characters.
In the first phase, Flipverse will showcase about 100 products from 15 brands like Puma and Noise, among others. While Flipkart had not decided when the next phase of Flipverse will be launched, it said there was interest from other brands wanting to sell their products on the platform. The idea is to reward customer purchases which can later be redeemed for both virtual and physical goods like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), among others.
Flipkart said it will track metrics like the number of brand tie-ups, customer experience and the engagement time on the app to determine the success of Flipverse, a project under Flipkart LABS – the company’s blockchain and metaverse-focused platform.
“This is a limited time shopping experience, we don’t intend to move the entire shopping experience online – that is not step one. Flipverse is not something we want to keep on the app forever, this is a partnership for this festive season as we look to provide an interactive and immersive shopping experience. We’ll then collect feedback and bring it in a different format or the same one, probably in a different season,” the company said while maintaining that the app size will remain unaltered and can run on any Android phone.
At present, customers spend 2-5 seconds on a product image while shopping online. The average spend time is higher at about 15-20 seconds for videos which increases to around 45 seconds with augmented reality (AR) options and with the metaverse-based shopping avatars in place, Flipkart is hopeful that customers will surpass the 45 second timeframe as well.
Further, Flipkart said AR and other interactive shopping features – similar to Flipverse and live shopping – typically shoot up buyers’ intent to shop by about 2.5-3x.
Of late, a host of e-commerce companies have been cashing in on the growing interest around the live shopping feature. Last month, Amazon – Flipkart’s main competitor in the country – too launched Amazon Live, a live video and interactive shopping experience.
Explaining the rationale behind the companies’ move, an analyst said, ”Customers needs and wants have been constantly evolving, especially when it comes to shopping experiences since they’re spoilt for choices and e-commerce players have been solving for exactly that by innovating. A Metaverse-based shopping is one such experience and we’re bound to see many more interactive features being introduced to hold customers’ attention span. The incremental value is too early to assess now.”
Analysts at Redseer too had said the live shopping experience was at a nascent stage currently but estimated the market to touch $5 billion in GMV by 2025. “We see great value proposition from live shopping because the Tier 2 plus markets need a lot more hand-holding and live commerce is exactly geared to do that. However, it’s more about getting the product market fit where the audience really starts getting more and more comfortable with the model and starts shopping a lot more,” Ujjwal Chaudhry, partner, Redseer said.