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Low
Realization:
5 - 10 Years
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Metaverses sometimes utilize, but are independent from, blockchain or virtual reality (VR) technologies.

Source: vincos.it

Relevance to the Future of Logistics

New Customer Channels

Metaverses are becoming another legitimate channel for retailers and other organizations to drive more customer engagement and business. The Roblox platform, for example, has 54.7 million active daily users, while Fortnite has 24 million. As more people begin to spend time and money in metaverses, the localized economies of selling and trading virtual products and NFTs of both digital and physical assets is also anticipated to grow, and businesses are looking to see how they can take part.

In 2021, Gucci successfully sold a wide range of digital goods, from virtual sneakers to a 5-minute video, as part of its first virtual product line. Meanwhile, Nike is seemingly committing to a virtual future, filing metaverse-related patents, acquiring startups focusing on virtual fashion, launching a Nikeland metaverse showroom, and starting its own studio to design virtual products. Other commodities being sold in metaverses include furniture, cars, events, and real estate, the last of which is expected to reach 1 billion USD in sales in 2022 and increase 31% annually through 2028.

For logistics organizations, the implications are not so clear. While some NFTs will be of physical assets that can be shipped to a new owner, most transactions will be of digital assets that do not require delivery services as they are imported directly into a user’s digital wallet. However, logistics companies can use metaverses to open virtual stores and showrooms to display products and advertise services. Customers in metaverses may be able to purchase NFTs like stamps and packaging and exchange NFTs for products in the real world, having them automatically delivered to an address.

Warehousing Services for Collectibles

As metaverses grow, so too will their economies and the exchanging and purchasing of NFTs. Not every NFT will represent a digital asset – a proportion will act as proofs of ownership for physical goods, particularly high-value products like luxury items and collectibles. Many customers will not want to risk damaging or losing these products during delivery to a new owner every time an NFT is traded.

One solution is the creation of secure and insured vault-like warehouses specifically built for storing high-value goods. eBay, for instance, launched a temperature-controlled, 24/7 secured vault for collectible trading cards with its own special digital marketplace in 2022. While ownership of the cards may change hands, the cards remain in place, safe and protected, unless owners request them to be delivered. In 2023, eBay plans to expand this service to other collectible categories and luxury products, storing up to 3 billion USD in assets in its vault.

Overall, we here at DHL foresee more retailers and third parties following in eBay’s footsteps and creating additional services to safely store physical products for NFT customers.

Supply Chain Simulations

It can be difficult and costly for supply chain managers and planners to test out changes and explore new ideas that may disrupt their current operations. Metaverses provide an opportunity to assess proposals without reconfiguring the physical world.

While no commercially available metaverse currently supports this, it is speculated that metaverses will act as environments to house and experiment with digital twins – exact virtual replicas of physical world assets and systems. Data from sensors measuring characteristics of the physical object will help duplicate a virtual one in the metaverse in real time. For logistics leaders, these digital twins could be everything from a single conveyor belt system or a whole facility to an entire supply chain or network. Users would be able to enter the metaverse and interact with the digital twin, running different scenarios to evaluate the best solution, whether this is rearranging a facility floor or adding another distribution center to a network.

In this way, metaverses provide a space for logistics managers and planners to visualize, plan, and collaborate on upcoming changes without compromising real-world operations.

Challenges

In a digital world where assets and payments can be instantly sent from one owner to another, the role for digital logistics services is currently unclear.
While today’s users can access several metaverses which are continually expanding, the potential of metaverses as important retail channels is uncertain.

This trend should be PASSIVELY monitored, with applications still mostly being developed or explored.

Outlook

The trend of Metaverse is exciting, but the development opportunities are not yet fully understood. Although metaverses now represent a rapidly growing channel with tens of millions of potential users, the role of the traditional logistics industry and the supply chain is unclear. Nonetheless, as this trend matures and more individuals and companies participate in metaverse economies, we here at DHL expect to gain greater insight.

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