Mar 23

Commercism Conference – 500 Startups

Dave McClure, and the 500 Startups team, extended an invite to their conference focused on ecommerce at Microsoft in Mountain View in March. The line-up of speakers was impressive and included founders and VCs focused on the ecommerce and payments space. Some guests were Bonobos, ModCloth, Warby Parker, Braintree, Stripe, WePay, Andreessen Horowitz, Forerunner Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, and SoftTech VC (Stephanie Palmeri, an InSITE alum).

Last year, at a Business Insider conference in New York, the message for ecommerce success was to have exclusive items to compete with Amazon. This year, at the Commercism Conference, payment and ecommerce companies both shared the idea that a curated shopping experience was much more important. (Content is back to being King.) Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer at Shopify, said the “future of retail belongs to creators and curators”. People are going to demand choice in how, when, and where to shop. Unfortunately there is not one recipe for each brand because a ‘curated experience’ can vary as drastically like allowing consumers to mix-and-match outfits or uploading pictures to be screen printed on t-shirts. Bill Ready, CEO of Braintree, described a ‘curated experience,’ less as a demand from the customers, but more as a context-driven experience from customer data. This view uses historical customer behavior to enhance the current customer experience.

This overarching discussion leaves many things to be discussed, but is an interesting shift from the prior thoughts on competing against Amazon in ecommerce. Many e-retailers are trying to figure out just how they can succeed in this evolving world dominated by Amazon and new technology.

– Thilmin Gee, NYU Stern MBA (2014)

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