Metaverse And Web 3.0 Will Change Digital Commerce


Metaverse and Web 3.0 will offer a cornucopia of heightened consumer experiences, says Piyush Kumar Chowhan – Group Chief Information Officer, Lulu Group International.

“This is a game-changing moment for regional companies to automate and create a customer-centric eCommerce experience.” Chowan also discusses how blockchain can enable more transparent and accurate end-to-end tracking in the supply chain.

How has technology been used to solve pandemic-induced challenges across the Lulu Group?

In the last two years, there’s been a lot of learnings for organisations, mainly digital enterprises that had their set of challenges. Retail has done a great job in standing up to the core promise of the customer by making sure that food and other essential items are available. But the adoption of technology by the consumers has been so fast that most retailers have been unable to cope with the change in consumer behaviour.

Volatility in the supply chain was high, and most retailers were swinging from pushing digital commerce to going back to the stores. The pandemic has accelerated omnichannel marketing, with over 86 per cent of people adopting online shopping, which was below 20 per cent pre-pandemic. Omnichannel is a new reality, and the most successful retailers have to combine the benefits of physical and digital to win the hearts of consumers and provide them with a better experience.

Are you optimistic about blockchain technology? Which industries do you see being most impacted?

Blockchain as a concept has been there for quite a while. In the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of blockchain adoption across industries. Blockchain provides provenance and transparency of data and sharing across channel partners, which is the most significant benefit of this technology.

In the financial domain, smart contracts can be made which can be shared across the various parties in the network or supply chain. You can dual drive that adoption of sharing information across your channel partners, which is very important.

The application of blockchain technology improves organic or vegan food traceability. The IBM Food Trust has been quite successful.

Also, digital tokens are used in customer loyalty programs; crypto and digital assets, such as NFTs, could become more mainstream. Most importantly, blockchain will help traceability and bring transparency across the supply chain, thereby reducing the cost of operations.

How has the digital transformation in the Middle East changed the way companies do business in the last two years?

Work from anywhere is becoming more prominent, opening up opportunities for business modulation and agile working. Digital technologies are being adopted to connect remote or distributed teams. Agile working is a significant change ushered in by digital transformation. Organisations understand the importance of investing in digital talent in design thinking, agile ways of working, innovations, and collaboration using digital tools. In the Middle East region, organisations are now more aligned to global ways of working, adopting new methods. Digital transformation is all about awakening, imbibing digital tools, digital practices, and digital capabilities within the workforce.

The Cloud journey is a crucial part of the digital transformation journey. Pre-pandemic, the importance of data was not very prominent in many enterprises, but now data-driven decision making and putting things on the cloud are the top priorities. As enterprises pursue digital transformation and adopt new technologies and business processes, security issues arise. Tackling security challenges will be a game-changer for enterprises in the region.

Which emerging technologies do you see as a gamechanger for the retail sector?

Well, there’s no one technology. Consumer behaviour has changed; they are looking at new ways of digital interaction. And that to me is the biggest change which has happened in the last two years. There’s enormous power and potential in the hands of the consumer now; they are calling the shots. Metaverse and Web 3.0 will change how we engage with the customers and interact with them in digital commerce.

Metaverse and Web 3.0 will merge to create new consumer behaviour and offerings. In the next ten years, retail companies will predominantly be consumer companies with a vast amount of consumers. So I’m very excited. This is a game-changing moment for regional companies to automate and create a customer-centric eCommerce experience.

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