Article | March 29, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has been particularly lethal for the retail sector. The industry has been dealing with a variety of problems from store shutdowns to declines in tourism to a drop in demand for products considered non-essential. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF has fallen 25% this month, compared with a 14% decline for the S&P 500 Index. Before answering that question, we should take a look at the status of the current pandemic and its impact on the economy. Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, have reached more than 600,000 worldwide. The U.S. now has the largest number of confirmed cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, U.S. jobless claims surged to more than 3 million for the week ending March 21 a new record due to disruption from the outbreak, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Article | March 29, 2020
Last July, a small group representing the giants of the tech industry gathered in the seat of US government, Washington DC. They probably didn’t want to be there. Congress had summoned their employers Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon to answer questions about the command they hold over the markets they operate in. On Amazon’s behalf, associate general counsel Nate Sutton spoke in defense of his employer’s role in US retail. Throughout, he argued that Amazon isn’t so powerful as to be able to control prices and stifle competition. Amazon, he pointed out, makes up less than 1% of retail globally. In the US, it accounts for around 4% of retail. In fact, Walmart is much larger than Amazon, he said. In terms of sales, Sutton is right. Walmart reported $510 billion in total sales across its US and international segments in the 2019 fiscal year, versus Amazon’s $233 billion in roughly the same period.
Article | March 29, 2020
Prior to the pandemic and quarantine, less than 8% of commerce was online. As of Q3FY20 eCommerce grew north of 14% of all commerce. So while the Retailpocalypse was in its last phase, physical retail still outsold eCommerce by at least 7:1.
The failure rate of crowdfunding campaigns is 85%.
The failure rate of eCommerce store owners ranges from 80 to 97%.
What if there were a way to bridge the gap between these three failure rates? What if we could bridge what people consume online with what they purchase offline before waiting for brain-computer interfaces (BCI)? In short what if we could bridge social and commerce? (Example use case.)
Mostly missing are the memorable, meaningful, measurable and monetizable responses from people interested in stories about beagles, princesses and pitbulls, pets, car repair, raspberry blueberry vinaigrette gyros, budget-saving techniques for holiday travel, getting stuck at airports in blizzards, rental cars and Cup o’ Noodles, My Fair Lady and @Instacart, dining out at the delicious Banana Leaves café, cooking kosher halal gelatin-free, blue #1 artificial dye-free egg nog flavored marshmallows, 50th anniversaries and chocolate ganache, adventures camping with youth groups, birdhouses built by kids, rainbow hair dye, artificial dye-free cakes DIY for your child’s birthday party, and Halloween gingerbread houses and Greek Mount Olympus costumes.
Other than ad revenue Youtube collects which most of it’s video posters see little of, monetizing the DIY craze has proven quite tricky. Ditto for Christmas shopping, smartphone accessories, buying a new luxury Subaru online with no salesman, how to get hard to find contact lenses and vitamins for kids, how Amazon often has thrift store prices on inventory thrift stores rarely carry, the challenges of buying clothes on Amazon that don’t fit but you don’t realize that until the clothes arrive, DIY car repair, funny car repair, glorious victory of car repair, diaper cakes and muscle aches, drones and honey scones, Triple A baseball and blue-tailed skinks, favorite foods, fasting, and Boston, fused vertebrae and buried treasure, where to buy school supplies when most stores are sold out, creameries and charcuterie,
Bridging social media with eCommerce has been the white rhino of many investors and start-ups for many years.
Instead of working toward such solutions, we have VC’s and stockholders asking about vanity metrics:
- How many people looked at your website? Instead of: How many people subscribed or how many purchased an item?-
- How many downloads per month does your app have? Instead of: How many of the people who downloaded your app have note removed it less than 30 days later?
- What’s your ad revenue? Instead of: How can your product capture or create more value?
In reply entrepreneurs answer these questions, they often present their increased spend on marketing followed up with vanity milestones:
“We’re using Google Analytics and similar providers to track every movement of the supply chain, to ensure when the purchaser’s journey is completed, there’s no delay in delivery. This will lead to more frequent purchases ideally of higher priced products, and…
We are pitching to Chipotle on Friday!”
This leads to concentrated research on Chipotle’s SWAT, followed up with an excellent pitch including a demo via Zoom.
The result of this pitch is usually:
1. The person loved the pitch and accepts your invitation to meet again with his/her manager next week.
2. The person you pitched to is not the decision-maker
3. The person you pitched to doesn’t quite understand what you’re pitching
4. The person you pitched to had 3 other projects due by COB and wasn’t fully present and listening to your 10-minute pitch
5. You provided too many facts too quickly, trying to build rapport
6. You shared how you’re product can reduce shrink, increase ROI, decrease costs, increase retention, and cure cancer. The person you pitched to doesn’t believe all those promises.
7. The person you pitched to is afraid of advocating change; the risk from change that results in lesser results can lead to negative repercussions. The risk of “business as usual” is minimal.
Forgotten by almost all eCommerce platforms and store owners are the facts that:
- People behave differently when they are observed (best behavior vs. average behavior). Despite this, we are seeing an incredible number of start-ups that offer to help track everything your customers do. “We’re Palantir for eCommerce” is essentially the ethos of these companies.
- The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz – too many choices overwhelm the person making the choice, to the point that no decision is made. If you don’t train your mind to buy what you want even if you have to look on pages other than Amazon and Google Shopping, you might end up buying the product you almost wanted.
- The concept of incentivized virality – when PayPal gave $20 to each person who referred another person who joined, and when DropBox offered free data storage to people who referred friends who joined – which Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh brilliantly detailed in Blitzscaling:
The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies.
So now each eCommerce platform tries to copy Amazon who built their model on the opposite of physical retail. Consider your last experience renting a car at an airport vs. Amazon:
- Do you want to refill the gas tank or would you like us to?
- Would you like liability only or more comprehensive types of insurance coverage?
- Would you like a GPS?
- Would you like to join our exclusive members club? etc., etc.
Adding to what @ElevateDemand said, “ B2B marketing is broken,” Raj De Datta, CEO and cofounder of @Bloomreach said, “The future of B2C marketing looks like B2B marketing,” Kevin Marasco, CMO of @Zenefits correctly said “marketing is going back in time from B2B to B2C” or person to person.
Smart speakers in every phone, tablet, laptop PC, TV, and car succeeded by BCI, which @Facebook and @Neuralink are pioneering, hold great potential. Until those products arrive or after their R&D phase, @Homemaide’s object recognition and image recognition models can provide the sorely needed bridge between Social and Commerce.
Article | March 29, 2020
E-commerce platforms are no longer secondary to that of brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, having an e-commerce platform is crucial to ensure business success today. The numbers don’t lie. Global retail e-commerce sales totaled over $3.5 billion in 2019. The value of the market is rising year on year. Running an online store can be a lucrative exercise if you get the vital processes correct. One such process is your inventory management. At heart, e-commerce is simple. You showcase a range of products online, customers find and buy what they want, and then you deliver. What’s critical, then, is that you have the items you advertise and can get them where they need to go. That’s why getting your inventory management right is essential.