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E-commerce: The Marketplace of the Future?


The e-commerce industry is a force that no investor can afford to ignore. Jason Goldberg, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fab, shares his expert knowledge on the booming industry and explains why being in the business of creating "Wow" generates good financial returns.

E-commerce: The Marketplace of the Future?

Cushla Sherlock: How has the e-commerce sector been changing lives?

Jason Goldberg: Retail is changing. Over the next 5, 10, or 20 years, most retail business will go online. Today, about 5 percent of worldwide retail sales are online. We will see a day when that reaches 10, 20, or 30 percent. In the beginning, e-commerce was really about getting commodity products online as cheaply as possible. Now, we're moving into the more exciting phase of e-commerce, where it's about emotional products – the things that people really cherish. Whether it's home products, jewelry or art. As those products go online, it becomes more about selection, not just the price. It's about the products that really excite consumers, and make them say, "Wow, I want to buy it online."

Do product selections vary between regions? In Asia, for example, compared to the Western world?

At Fab, we notice that the same products resonate everywhere. There's a reason why everyone loves the iPhone, Coca-Cola and Facebook. It is possible to have global products, the key is to understanding which products excite people uniformly. We find that the products that excite people in one region then go to another region, and vice versa. Therefore, there's a great opportunity to create products that have global scale. 

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What sectors benefit the most from e-commerce?

I can't pick out any specific sector. There are certain elements of commerce that are quickly coming online now, for the first time. For instance, Fab's biggest market is in home products. The online furniture market is just booming. Ten or 15 years ago, it was all about books and media. Today, in addition to furniture, we're seeing jewelry and art go online. Five years ago, people would have never thought about buying these products online. Now we're seeing double digit, even triple digit, growth of these products.

What about mobile? How is that merging with e-commerce?

Mobile changes everything. People used to walk down the street looking at storefronts. Today, they are carrying the storefront in their pocket. We have many days where more than 50 percent of Fab's sales are carried out on mobile devices, which is unheard of in e-commerce. On average, about 35 to 40 percent of our sales are on mobile. We see that as a whole new frontier. That is the ability to capture the shopper when they take their phone out of their pocket, and have them not just saying, "I'm looking for something specific," but instead, "I want to go shopping today. I want to browse, and discover." Being right there, part of that discovery process, is a huge opportunity.

How do you see the industry in 10 or 15 years?

We're still at the very beginning of brand building. If you look at the physical retail world, consumers shop for brands. It's not just the brands of the products, but it's the brands of the stores. There's a reason why they walk into one store: because they have a certain expectation as to what kind of products they will find. Over the next 10 or 20 years, I think the introduction of internet brands will be the most emerging trend, besides mobile shopping. People will shop online, and it won't just be a catalog of everything. It's knowing the type of products they will browse and discover when they open up their iPhone, iPad, or application.

As a successful entrepreneur, what tips do you have for other budding entrepreneurs?

Just focus on one thing and that one thing typically starts with the customer. Get the relationship promise between you and your customers right, and you can do all sorts of things. At Fab, we always say, we're in the business of making "Wow," not in the business of making money. If we make "Wow," lots of money will happen over time.

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The Future Now

Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference
Singapore 2014