Two posts are not enough to get to know a person, keep that in mind. I’m not a conventional fashion blogger; at least, this is not my intention. In my previous post I’ve mentioned the fact that I’m not going to be one of those bloggers who show the readers what they’ve bought and what they wore for a specific event. I love those kind of blogs, I enjoy reading them everyday, but it’s simply not possible for me: no time to take pictures on a daily basis; plus I’m not exactly a model, therefore it would be pretty embarassing showing pictures of me, looking like a piece of stone in the middle of the street or in my bathroom (no way!).
So, my plan is to keep doing what I like the most: writing about fashion. I really enjoy getting to know brands, both allegedly famous and not yet discovered by the mass. I also like to study phenomena that can be led back to society, habits and cultures. Like e-commerce, for instance.
2011 has definitely been the year of e-commerce but 2012 seems to be destined to even greater accomplishment. The already big websites are getting bigger, outrunning the smaller e-tailers. But it hasn’t always been like this.
Back in 1999, when dot-coms started spreading, e-commerce wasn’t really all the rage. On the contrary, venture capital investors were reluctant to fund these new businesses. In addition to that, start-up costs for e-commerce companies were higher because they had all kinds of expenses, like software and internet services, stock supply, setting up logistics platforms, finding and maintaining customers. Plus, working on a wholesale level, margins were quite small.
In order to have at least the slightest chance to succeed and to attract the interest of investors, e-commerce needed scale, but in order to achieve scale, it required an important investment. This vicious circle made things even harder for those who tried launching e-commerce businesses and, at that time, very few were successful: e-Bay and Amazon, this latter growing at five times the rate of overall retail, stood out and, after more than a decade, still are at the forefront of online retail. When it comes to fashion, though, Net-à-Porter, Yoox, Neiman Marcus and Shopbop retained their predominant/prevailing/leading positions.
Infrastructural progress, improved scalability and integration, new softwares as well as cheaper and more flexible systems paved the way to the strengthening of e-commerce, with a consequent venture capital interest in this very sector. This phenomenon was additionally influenced by social networks and, recently, by the explosion of smartphones and tablets.
Many online stores will take advantage of this episode by offering mobile-exclusive promotions to customers, blending mobile shopping and in-store experience. Mobile is gradually becoming a bridge between online and offline, fueling online sales thanks to specific apps and services.
2012 will be a revolutionary year because it will implement everything that e-commerce businesses have achieved throughout these years. The majority of companies, though, still offer iPad contents and functions which were previously devised for iPhone, therefore not specifically matching the actual features of the tablet. One of the exceptions is Sephora, company owned by the LVMH group, which ideally differentiates iPhones and iPads: for both of them there’s a mobile site (m-commerce compatible); the iPhone app, “Sephora to Go” integrates with in-store retail experience and easily engages customers with activities, videos, beauty tips and many more; the iPad app offers an interactive experience with make-up tutorials, interviews and exclusive updates about the world of Sephora.
No wonder we are entering an extraordinary year: there is so much potential for e-tail, many further improvements to make, lots of new ideas to put into practice, fresh boosts to give to this sector. The only possible, and presumably negative, consequence is the gradual weakening of store-based retailing, which is destined to go through a tough phase within the next few years.