In 2009 retail sales, excluding food and motor vehicles, totaled $3.6 trillion. While everyone focuses on the dramatic gains in online retail, or e-commerce, which soared from $42 billion in annual sales in 2002 to $197 billion in 2011, the reality is that even with its soaring growth, e-commerce is still a mere pittance of total consumer retail spending.
When you realize that Amazon, the Walmart of the internet, makes up a third of all online retail, then the stark reality of the potential of e-commerce is quite obvious. When you realize that 36% of all units sold by Amazon are actually via third party vendors you cannot help but wonder if Amazon is an online retailer or rather becoming a retail "community."
Of course there will be a continued push to expand the concept of retail further and further into new areas, and we have the continued efforts to champion the concepts of social commerce or "f-commerce," mobile commerce or "m-commerce," and the constant chatter of frictionless payments and a host of other ideas to continue to champion ideas over the existing brick and mortar retail grid. Oh, and we will continue to hear all the predictions of the demise of traditional retail and the idea that consumer expectations can only be met by technology.
There is no doubt that traditional retail, brick and mortar retail, big box retailers, and department stores all have a myriad of issues and shortcomings, but that does not negate the fundamental shortcoming of e-commerce: Which is the "experience" of retail; as e-commerce matures, and if it is to continue its growth patterns, online retailers will have to find a way to capture the "experience" of retail.
We will focus on this with our T Shirts on Tuesday series:
March 6th: Cafe Press Goes "Kiosks" On Campus
March 13th: Threadless Becomes A "Brand"
March 20th: An "Indie" Superstore
There really is no reason to discuss ideas when we have the efforts of some of the leading ecommerce innovation leaders pointing the direction to the future.