3D Printing

The death - and rebirth - of retail

The death - and rebirth - of retail

On January 29, Marc Andreessen predicted the death of retail in favor of disruptive, pure-play etailers, such as Fab.com. A choice quote from the PandoDaily article:

“Retail chains are a fundamentally implausible economic structure if there’s a viable alternative,” he says. “You combine the fixed cost of real estate with inventory, and it puts every retailer in a highly leveraged position. Few can survive a decline of 20 to 30 percent in revenues. It just doesn’t make any sense for all this stuff to sit on shelves. There is fundamentally a better model.”

I've been studying retail ever since I can remember. My parents were retail entrepreneurs from the time I was born, as I wrote about in this Lucky7 post. I've been programming since I was seven-years old, as I wrote about in why I named this blog Lucky7 - in tribute to my mother. I leveraged these two experiences to start my own etailer in 1998 - programmed on an eCommerce platform that I created. And I've founded two large companies to help retailers - Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics. I've also served on the Board of Shop.org for three consecutive terms. So to say I've been thinking about this for awhile is an understatement.

The Most Important Book I read in 2012

Reading Abundance is like going to TED - the main TED, in Long Beach, CA. I first went in February of 2011, and I cannot wait to go again in February of 2013 (only my second time to go). Later in 2013, I'm also going to TED Global in Edinburgh for the first time. Going to TED is a life-changing experience. It was especially moving in 2011 because my wife, Debra, and I had just visited Africa - also for the first time. Africa was life-changing too, but in a very different way. Going to Africa gives you incredible perspective on humanity and what really matters in life. Debra and I went to see the high school we helped build, via the Pipkins, the incredible leaders at The Nobelity Project. Seeing how we had directly helped a small village in Kenya was a game-changer for us. In Africa, you see some of the most beautiful landscape and animals of your life, coupled with the depths of the most pressing problems for humanity. It is overwhelming and when you return there is a thought of, "the problems are too big for humanity to overcome". Going to both - Africa and TED, side-by-side - was especially thought provoking. TED, and the brilliant book Abundance, address this unproductive "too big to try" thought head-on, and that stokes my optimistic entrepreneurial energy in a big way. I think it will do the same for you.