December 14, 2020

Performance Commerce

Commerce seems to be headed in three directions.
  1. Amazon.
  2. Commodity Commerce.
  3. Performance Commerce.
Now, you can argue this thesis until the cows come home, and nobody is going to be right or wrong.

Big Box Retail leans toward Commodity Commerce. How many people get a thrill buying a light fixture for their bathroom at Home Depot?

You (the vast majority of you who read this) are in the Performance Commerce category. If you were truly selling commodity products, you'd have already been drubbed by the big boxes and Amazon. If you survived that onslaught, you are in the Performance Commerce category.

What is "Performance Commerce"??

It's the opposite of boredom.

Have you ever watched a newscast from the 1970s? There are few things more boring in the modern world than watching Roger Mudd read text off of a piece of paper. If you "performed" the news in this manner in 2020, you'd have an audience of zero. Meanwhile, Fox News and CNN and MSNBC are calibrated toward "performances". I was getting an oil change a few weeks ago, and a fellow citizen was not wearing her mask (#chindiaper), telling the service rep all the reasons why he should watch "Hannity" on Fox News. That's the impact of "Performance Politics" or "Performance News".

Performance Retail used to be driving to a mall, spending $11 at Sbarro, then getting 50% off an item at JCP. That was entertaining, much more so than ordering online (in the early days of e-commerce) or than ordering via a catalog and waiting nine days for your order to arrive. Retail didn't evolve, hence, retail is crumbling all around us ... COVID or not.

There's a reason why Amazon is somewhere between 30% and 45% of all e-commerce ... they captured all of the boring transactions. There is a small element of Performance Commerce at Amazon ... if you consider that you can order something this morning and have it delivered this evening in an Amazon van featuring a Ford Transit chassis as being Performance Commerce.

COVID temporarily changed the rules of "Performance Commerce". If you can't go eat at Texas Roadhouse (that's Performance Dining) you'll order from ButcherBox and then you are the Performance. That changes in 6-9 months, doesn't it? Then what?

It's time to start thinking ahead to 2022. Oh, I know, we're all figuring out our budget for 2021, and that's hard work with considerable uncertainty, but 2022 isn't far away and Retail is going to re-emerge from the darkness and we won't be buying meat from ButcherBox at the same rate because we'll be eating at Texas Roadhouse. Then what?

That's where Performance Commerce comes into play. We're going to have to do something "non-boring". Sending a catalog, having a "Friends and Family" event, offering $10 of free merch as a loyalty reward, or giving special discounts for email subscribers won't cut it. Nope. For a year-and-a-half, we had to give our own Performances. In 2022, it will be up to us to Perform for our customers.

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