Net Retailers Face 45 Percent Growth in MarketWritten by Rob Spiegel
On day I write this column, Spaceworks, another promising Internet company has closed its doors. The fever that once encouraged business writers to claim dot coms would quickly overcome and obliterate traditional businesses, is now burning against Net companies. Now it's fashionable for journalists to scoff at Internet enterprises, ridiculing excesses such as goofy 2000 Super Bowl ads.
Ok, we've all had fun with media backlash, now let's regain our bearings. Amid stories of dot com demise, there is a hidden stream of positive reports showing a growing base of Internet consumers willing to spend ever greater amounts online. Is anyone covering this story?
Report after report shows a growing population of Internet shoppers. High-speed connections are finally catching fire. Cable modems are booming and telecom companies are struggling to keep up with demand for DSL installations. Analysts are saying nice things about Amazon.com's chances of hitting profitability later in 2001. Some bad news.
One recent piece of good cheer arrived in form of "The State of Online Retailing 4.0," a new Shop.org study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group. The quiet-but-powerful headline of report reads, "The North American online retail market is expected to grow 45 percent in 2001, reaching $65 billion." Not bad growth statistics, especially since we're supposedly in throws of a complete collapse of Internet economy.
Apparently, online retailers continue to improve their functionality while journalists report that Rome.com is burning. "While consumer demand continues to propel growth, online retailers have wrestled with operational issues. They're improving their performance in key areas such as customer acquisition and buyer conversion, " said Elaine Rubin, chairman (sic) of Shop.org.
She goes on to point out weakness of some Net companies that contributed to very real crash among some of ill-prepared dot coms. "There is a steep learning curve in becoming an online retailer - those players that were unable to excel in all facets of this complex business just didn't make it to end of 2000."
Ecommerce: A New ArtformWritten by Rob Spiegel
What creative project do you have in back of your mind? Writing that novel? Putting together a bluegrass band? Painting sunsets over Rio Grande? How about starting a business?
When you think of term creative endeavor, does launching or running a business come to mind? To most creative people, business is antithesis of creativity. Yet slowly, ever so slowly, nature of business is changing. The need for innovation in business is gradually overtaking need for control as resource that makes difference between success and failure.
Really? But isn't business essentially about control? Controlling resources and controlling people? Yes, but business is also about innovation and communication, both of which live at heart of creativity.
There are two reasons why I believe creativity will become increasingly valued in business. Control is certainly critical in business, both resources and people need to be managed carefully. But control is easier to teach than innovation. Given an equal need for both innovation and control, control is easier skill or talent to find and implement. Thus innovation rises in value because it's more difficult to find and utilize effectively.
Are innovation and control equal needs? They certainly haven't been in past. Control has been leading force in business since beginning of industrial age. That age has ended however, and we now live in an service-based information world of commerce. This means resource that needs to be controlled is more likely to be information rather than, say, coal. Information can be managed easily across electronic wiring and storage media. That means important work of business will be creating and disseminating information, and that requires a creative mind.
The other reason I believe creativity will rise in importance in business is that in our information-based economy, resources required for business are fewer and less costly. If you can run a storefront on Internet that can reach millions across globe, you don't need capital to build a store that sits in a city and reaches thousands. The juice it takes to make Internet company successful is not capital so much as creative ability to reach and build a customer base over an infrastructure that's effectively free.