Is E-Commerce dead, past its prime, or just resting?
December 11, 2001 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Is E-Commerce dead, past its prime, or just resting? This journal special issue has some interesting thoughts about the future of E-Commerce. I especially liked the paper by Peffers. The conventional wisdom at this point is that B2C E-Commerce is viable only for certain types of products or contexts. Others (e.g. Andy Grove, Michael Porter) seem to think that in the future, all commerce will be E-Commerce and will be integrated with physical companies. Then there is the M-Commerce angle- e.g. DoCoMo. What do you make of all of this? How will we be shopping and communicating in the future?
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy (13 comments total)
As I see it, the Internet itself is still an alpha version, therefore any technology built upon it is still in gestation. Further, a transaction at the local Walmart is e-commerce in that the store's inventory is automatically updated and the product's supplier is notified when stock drops below its threshold. Ever had a credit card verified or used a debit card? Guess what, that's e-commerce too.
posted by mischief at 10:35 AM on December 11, 2001

One day they'll build cities around E-Commerce.
posted by holloway at 10:44 AM on December 11, 2001

heck, they built a city on Rock and Roll...
posted by o2b at 10:50 AM on December 11, 2001

Thanks a lot. Now it will take me thirty minutes just to get that damn song out of my head...

E-commerce will survive. It will even thrive, eventually. It will evolve with the web and actually become a tool that connects the right people with the right products.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:40 AM on December 11, 2001

ecommerce is just commerce. 'brick&mortar' businesses are finally getting into it, as they should have done in the first place, ecommerce will fade away as a buzzword and remain as an everyday activity.

mischief, Exactly.
posted by th3ph17 at 12:17 PM on December 11, 2001

E-commerce IS striving for companies who know their market and know what they are doing.

Do you or someone you know receive catalogs? Chances are, the companies behind those catalogs are making a killing on the web, because they understand how to leverage the web as a means of taking orders. I work with one catalog company that is taking thousands of orders a day, and on a mediocre day can make upwards of $50,000 in daily web sales.
posted by Neb at 12:21 PM on December 11, 2001

Errr, I meant 'E-commerce IS thriving'.

But, e-commerce will appear to be dead to those companies who don't know how to make it work for them.
posted by Neb at 12:33 PM on December 11, 2001

I think the vast majority--95%--of all e-commerce which will ever be already is (in terms of types of products/services, not necessarily in terms of volume). Home entertainment software will get to be significantly more e-driven (even today, video and record stores strike me as absurd institutions), but that's about it. Those e-commerce fools underestimated by a power of 100 the idea of shopping as a form of social interaction.

P.S.: this participant in e-commerce makes me sick. Although, so does his non-virtual operations in a mall near you.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2001

I think the e-commerce we need is already there. We've had EDI between financial institutions for years. Services that suit direct mail have moved online. We have EFTPOS and ATMs and telephone banking. And that's it. With the large numbers of internet-connected people in the Western world, if there was a compelling reason for anything else we would see it by now.

"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games to which it is most attached is called, "Keep to-morrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet". The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. They then go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun."

And that's what happened to e-commerce. And educational television. And WAP. Waterproof lounge furniture that the housewife can clean with a hose. And all of next week's interactive broadband multimedia convergent synergistic mongolian clusterfucks too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:54 PM on December 11, 2001

i equate eCommerce to the pilgrims and America: it started idealisticlly, a little magic happened, there were some big successes that will last forever, and then a bunch of people died as soon as the weather got bad.

Out of that tragedy came hearty people who really built this great country and their decendents will build the next real wave of eCommerce where when you buy your stupid book or toy or viagra, it will actually get sent to your house in a reasonable period of time.

and maybe next time it starts booming, the government wont let some old kook like Alan Greenspan "cool it down" so much that it sends us into a damn recession. thank you.
posted by tsarfan at 3:15 PM on December 11, 2001

Oooh. I forgot the parallels with railways in the 19th century. Vast fortunes, fraud, intrigue, worthless bonds, bootstrapping infrastructure, abandoned ghost towns... Joining the dots is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thought: for decades, anyone with a credit card and a phone has been able to order goods and services through an easy-to-use interface called an "operator". "p-commerce" has been very succesful in some market sectors: pizza, sex, psychic predictions. It is less successful in others: cars, clothing, ...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:23 PM on December 11, 2001

i_am_joe's: whose quote is that?

The only problem with the quote: there have been no "elders" involved.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2001

PP: G K Chesterton.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:39 PM on December 11, 2001

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