MeCommerce - how to disrupt retail & commerce

Don Dodge · June 13, 2011 · Short URL:

Take the best of Dell, Amazon and Zappos

MeCommerce is all about me and you. It is disruptive and can be applied to any business. I had a fascinating discussion today with Matt Lauzon, founder of Gemvera, about how he applied MeCommerce to the jewelry business. The core MeCommerce principles are; Customization, Customer Care, and Convenience. Some businesses do one or more of these already, but very few can execute on all three principles.

Customization - Dell Computer was one of the first tech companies to sell completely customized computers that were "built to order". Dell didn't have finished goods inventory. They built everything to the customer's order. You choose how much memory, size of disk, graphics card, processor speed, and a bunch of other options to get exactly the computer you want. Customization could be applied to almost any business. Having no inventory allows a business to reduce capital costs and respond quickly to customer demand. Nothing new here. It is only when you add the other two principles that you get disruption. 

Customer Care - For many years L.L. Bean mail order business had the best customer service anywhere. Tony Hsieh of Zappos took "customer experience" up another level with what he calls the WOW Experience. Great customer care makes the customer feel like they really care about me. Customer Service is more than just an expense, it is great marketing. It is building a loyal relationship with me.

Convenience - Make it easy for me to buy. Make it easy for me to find exactly what I want...even when I don't know what I want. Better yet, allow me to create exactly what I want. Suggest products to me based on what I have bought, or what others like me have purchased. Amazon does a great job of suggesting products to me. Netflix can suggest great movies based on what I have watched in the past, and what others like me suggest. This requires sophisticated technology and extensive data mining.

Take the best of Dell (customization) and Zappos (customer care) and Amazon (convenience) and you have MeCommerce. Matt Lauzon, founder of Gemvera, has applied these principles to custom made jewelry, and built the fastest growing online jeweler. The jewelry business already has great profit margins. But, the cost of carrying millions of dollars of inventory, thousands of different product SKU's, and no product differentiation, brings those juicy gross margins down to small net profits. Gemvera only sells online, carries no inventory, and provides the custom "me experience" to all their customers.

Think about how you can deliver the MeCommerce experience to your customers. Think about how to customize your product so you can have true differentiation. Think about how to deliver great customer care so your customers tell everyone they know how great you are. Think about how to make buying and discovering your product convenient. Sounds simple, but it is really hard to make the trade-offs to get it right.

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