November 16, 2006

The End of E-Commerce / Dell

Dell's announcement (see update at the bottom of this link) that they will have a virtual store in Second Life (a virtual reality environment) has far-reaching ramifications for all of us in the catalog/online space.

It was just a decade ago that various catalogers began dipping their toes in e-commerce. I recall being at Eddie Bauer, in 1996, listening to my Vice President joke with our Online Marketing Manager about generating maybe $750 of sales a day, while the catalog channel drove a million dollars a day, and our stores sold four million dollars of merchandise a day. Ten years ago, it was hard to fathom what e-commerce would become.

In much the same way, this announcement begins the shift away from e-commerce, to "v-commerce", or virtual reality commerce. The fact that somebody can configure their own PC in a virtual reality environment, and then have it shipped to one's home, changes online retailing.

This has ramifications for the online marketing folks working in companies today. You are the direct-to-consumer arm of your business now, you have taken that responsibility from catalog folks. Be certain to watch the developments of "v-commerce", and make sure your skills are sharp in this arena, so that you don't become "old school" in five to ten years. Don't repeat the mistakes that so many catalog marketers made in the past decade.

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