retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times this morning has its usual Thursday technology column by Farhad Manjoo, in which he looks at start-ups and how they are endeavoring to disrupt entrenched companies with established business models ... even entrenched and established companies that themselves could be considered to be disruptors.

There are two ways to get into the e-commerce business, he writes - one is to mount a frontal attack on Amazon, and the other is to do something "out of left field."

Manjoo writes:

"In the last few months, two retail veterans have been working on companies that explore these different avenues of breaking into online commerce. Ron Johnson, who, with Steve Jobs, created Apple’s lucrative physical stores, has been working on something out of left field — a selective online store called Enjoy, which, for no additional cost, will send an expert to hand-deliver tech products and spend an hour helping people set up and learn to use their new things. The service, Mr. Johnson said, is a smartphone-era take on his past at Apple — an effort to create the friendliness of an Apple Store in people’s homes and offices.

"Then there’s Marc Lore, an e-commerce veteran who in 2010 sold his company, Quidsi, to Amazon for about $550 million. Mr. Lore’s new service,, represents a frontal assault on Amazon. Mr. Lore has raised more than $200 million — a staggering sum before even opening up shop — to create a nationwide e-commerce giant to compete with Amazon on selection, service and, especially, price. Jet’s promise is simple and, if the company can keep it, potentially momentous: to offer the absolute lowest price on just about everything, from paper towels to oatmeal to tennis rackets, guaranteed."

It is a fascinating piece, and you can- and should - read it here.
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