Fascinating interview by the Wall Street Journal of Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner of venture-capital firm Forerunner, and Lydia Jett, managing partner of SoftBank Investment Advisers, in which they discuss the post-pandemic prospects for e-commerce.
The premise of the conversation is simple: "During the pandemic, when many people were stuck at home, they went shopping online. Now that things are returning to normal, e-commerce sales are slowing or falling. What are online sellers going to do?"
Here are two quotes, just to give you a taste:
Kirsten Green: "I think of e-commerce and commerce as one and the same. Being home for so long or having changes to your routines had people shopping online more than ever, and getting comfortable shopping online in some new categories like grocery. Coming out the other side of it, it’s not as much of a slowdown in e-commerce as much as a reorientation or a distribution across all of the channels."
Lydia Jett: "Consumer experiences change. The expectations have changed. How we will behave has changed. We see that in so many different facets of how we’re living today.
"But we are in a market where we’ve had supply shocks. We’ve had big economic shocks in terms of how do you capitalize companies. And you’re talking about consumer inflation … We see growth across the e-commerce portfolio. That makes us bullish on the future when we get past all these big shocks we’re playing with right now."
You can read the entire piece here.
- KC's View:
This is something that we're going to talk about in "The Innovation Conversation" later this week, but it seems to me that in a lot of ways what we are seeing is a kind of right-sizing. There's nothing normal or conventional about the series of events that have led us to the current moment - we had a pandemic that threw e-commerce into warp speed, and then inflation and a potential recession that threw a bunch of headwinds at the trend and forced a fast reckoning. as quickly as companies had to expand certain capabilities during the pandemic and accelerate their levels of innovation, the current moment calls for equally quick action.
We're seeing the impact of these various shocks to the system play out in terms of stock market value, and while I cannot predict how this will unfold - I'm not a stock prognosticator - I do think that it is fair to say that "e-commerce and commerce as one and the same," and that the companies with sold business plans able to serve the entire continuum, consistent with their value proposition, probably are going to be fine long-term.