Commerce Meets Web3 – What Happens Next

It would be an understatement to say the commerce landscape changed significantly over the last few years. Thanks to a shift towards digital at the start of the decade, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has boomed: this year, 20.8% of retail purchases are expected to take place online.

By 2026, this figure is forecast to rise to 24%, with global e-commerce sales expected to surpass USD$8bn (~£6.4bn). As society has shifted towards digitization, it’s safe to say that commerce has not only adjusted but thrived as e-commerce has taken precedence.

With commerce adjusting so well to the internet as we currently know it, can it be expected to do the same for “the next chapter of the internet”, Web3?

Although still in its infancy, there’s been a lot of hype and, equally scrutiny, around Web3 technology. While some consider the decentralized nature of Web3 technology as a useful tool for democratizing the Internet overall, many have been quick to dismiss elements of Web3 as fads.

NFTs in particular have been the subject of equal amounts of hype and scrutiny, with the volatility of the digital assets creating a lot of noise around their worth. But when we cut through the noise surrounding NFTs, it’s evident the nascent tech has some potential for commerce: in 2021, NFTs generated around USD$41bn (~£32.8bn) in sales, indicating the financial potential of the nascent tech.

This preceded numerous brands throwing their hats into the Web3 ring, amongst them Nike, which acquired digital apparel start-up RTFKT in late 2021 and launched the Web3 platform. Swoosh the following year.

Last year also saw the launch of Starbucks’ Odyssey rewards program, a loyalty scheme powered by Web3 technology that leverages the exclusivity and collectability of NFTs to appeal to consumers.