E-commerce is evolving. Over the past decade we’ve seen two real crests of e-commerce. In the beginning, commodities provided the initial spark. Jeff Bezos and co. perfected the art as Amazon began bringing products from titans like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Costco onto the uncharted frontier of the internet. Selection, speed, varying price-points and transparent payments were the hallmark consumer value propositions. The bigger the catalogs, the larger the inventory, the better it was. Jason Goldberg, CEO of Fab, calls this age Commodity Commerce. With every crest, there is a trough, but its important to remember that these lows have hidden gems buried within them– they tacitly signal the next trend, the next big opportunity.
There soon came a time where digital media increasingly became more ubiquitous. Youtube, Netflix, Google and Apple began pursuing original content in the form of books, movies, music and more. The archaic traditions of purchasing hard-covers, DVD’s, MP3 CD’s from your local mall venues were soon cast away. This idea of Digital Commerce broadened the purchasing lexicon of your typical consumer. It was an experience elated and unseen. This era shed fears of brandishing your credit card to online venues and encouraged people to experiment with their purchasing habits. Most began owning intangible products at a remarkable velocity, and soon companies like Dropbox began offering cloud computing as a consumer solution for the first time.
The third crest will be something that industry leaders are calling Emotional Commerce. We are on the fast-track to this destination. Every person brings with them a unique background, a distinct taste and an exclusive niche. Marketplaces online will truly be defined by the products they choose to house. These products need to be exciting, riveting, and touching. Ultimately, this means that brand power will be of the utmost importance. Companies should be very meticulous about their marketing strategies. First impressions are everything. Your curation will define you.
Furthermore, this entails a purchasing experience at the other end of the spectrum. Before, in the bland-commodity era, speed was the pursued ideal, encouraging customers to be in and out of online marketplaces. In this 3rd wave, your platform should do the exact opposite. You want your customers to stay and spend time on your platform. You want them to explore it and make personal, intimate connections with your products. These bonds will enrich the word-of–mouth marketing strategy behind your platform creating a respectable viral loop engineered into your customer segments.
I think the most important and thrilling opportunity lay with merchants. The unspoken truth is that the creators of products are the only ones that can truly lead this emotional connection with consumers. It is only natural to allow merchants to sell, distribute, and adhere to their respective networks better. This is the fundamental obligation of any marketplace. Thus today’s marketplaces have a burning responsibility to offer an unmatchable trove of merchant tools through developing technology. Allow your merchants to drive up sales and traction to your platform with original, heart-felt content only they can provide. Give them credit. As creators, they rightfully deserve it.