talking heads

Sep 01, 2001 9:30 PM  By

The emperor has no clothes! The “secret” is out in the open. The Internet is at a crossroads. It is readily apparent that there is very little future for e-commerce growth. The Internet is regressing to its roots — a source of information and communication.

Unfortunately for many of us, the e-commerce business is in retrenchment. For the short term, a few players will survive, but a majority of pure-play companies and the companies that support them will be gone. The industry will be supported by a few players who will stagger along until a major technological breakthrough makes e-commerce relevant again. I do believe that within this decade a device will be developed that makes Internet usage as common as television usage. Whatever this device is, it must be cheap and easy to use. The Internet is neither. I would encourage all companies to wait to take the plunge into e-commerce until this new thing, whatever it is, comes to light.
Mark DeChambeau, Principal
DeChambeau & Associates, Inc.
Boston, MA

I think they’ll live. It won’t be as it was in their glory days, but they’ll come back in a quieter way. I hope they do — I love shopping online. But the ones who survive will be those who deliver on their promises.
Diane Williams, Director of Marketing
Envision Telephony, Inc.
Seattle, WA

It’s all about being multichannel — J. Crew, Wal-Mart, Target, and Sears started out slowly on the Web, but now they’re huge. It is a significant goal of multichannel retailers to move sales to the channels with the least cost.
David Towers
VP, E-commerce Operations
J. Crew, New York, NY

I see a shift toward the Web and away from catalog sales. I think it’s going to be a gradual shift until retailers can figure out how to migrate customers from catalogs to the Web without significantly impacting sales. Listen to the customer. Move at her speed. A retailer who moved too fast had a 20% drop in sales in both its catalog and Web channels.
Daniel Korn, Executive VP
Neiman Marcus Online
Irving, TX

I think people will continue to proceed cautiously to find out who their online customers are — catalog and brick-and-mortar set the tone. People who succeed will do so because they are consistent and appropriate in this new medium.
David Lauren
Chief Creative and Marketing Officer
Ralph Lauren Media/
New York, NY

Some companies realize that they have partners that do IT infrastructure better, quicker, and faster than they can. We can get economies of scale that they can’t. When companies had lower Web sales, inefficiency didn’t matter, but with Web sales of $200 million, the outsourcing of certain business functions — optimizing R&D — would make sense for individual companies. The Internet is fundamentally a global business; maturity is coming to the Web.
Michael Carrier
Chief Technology Officer
Totality, San Francisco, CA

Recognized and trusted brands that employ a multichannel retail strategy will continue to see significant growth in e-commerce. The key is to provide convenience, choice, service, and fast, accurate fulfillment — present the customer with a seamless branding and shopping experience.
Susan Harvey
Senior VP/Managing Director
New York, NY