Madrid: the social layer?

I presented at the European E-Commerce Conference in Madrid last week on the UK opportunity and London ecosystem.

What was striking throughout the conference was actually how little e-commerce was mentioned – it is now just “commerce” and the process, models and platform are commonplace, and therefore not noteworthy.

The key theme was the addition of a social layer to customer engagement, and crucially in generating better experiences and higher conversion rates through the creation of a community of knowledge, interest or data.

This theme was highlighted by US platform Etsy, highly focused on brand and community building in order to create the right environment for its population of small artists and makers. Styling itself as the “worlds handmade marketplace” Etsy is growing rapidly and will turnover c.$700M this year.

Same principles but other end of the scale, Spanish start up pitch winner Edenes combined sharing functionality with online shopping decisions to drive a compelling, and social, offer.

And so it continued – from Spanish live music start up EmeSound to US fashion community Poshmark to Israeli crowdsourced traffic guide Waze – a social or community element as a defining principle in the business or service model; All emblematic of the massive shift in consumer behaviours driven in a very short space of time by ubiquitous connectivity and smartphone technology.

The star of the show for me was Quirky. With a mission to make “invention accessible” this New York business launches products on a weekly basis, rapidly moving from simple idea on their online platform, to community refinement, to rapid manufacture and market place. Inventors and contributors are assigned a value of their input to the final product and revenues are disbursed back through the community. Simple, focused and inspiring – it felt like the type of paradigm shift we should expect as the world of distributed manufacturing and 3D printing arrives.

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