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December 03, 2006

Cyber Monday - One Week Later

Today marks the end of "CyberWeek":  the week after Thanksgiving Week, when everyone is supposed to be glued to their computers, frenetically pressing "BUY".  Last Monday, or CyberMonday, was the much celebrated coming out party for Internet retail, as promoted by shop.org.  As someone who was involved in the very earliest Internet commerce sites and fought the e-commerce wars during my 5 years at Open Market (1995-2000), I was pretty blase about the whole affair.  I figured it would be roughly flat or perhaps slightly better than last year.  With housing prices crashing, the stock market stalling, Iraq in civil war (Matt Lauer said it was ok to say this, honest), how much incremental e-commerce would we really see?

Boy was I wrong.

Online shopping activity on CyberMonday was explosive.  Reports showed a 26% gain in sales from the same day in 2005 and a 40x overall increase in online shopping as compared to Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving).  Consumers are expected to spend an average of $800 online and nearly 50% plan to make at least one holiday purchase online, up from 36% a few years ago.  In total, an estimated 61 million people will shop from work this holiday season, 10 million more than last year.  One of my portfolio companies, Mall Networks, powered the CyberMonday.com website and gleefully reported explosive traffic numbers this week.

With this kind of growth, it's no wonder there are many companies pursuing "E-Commerce 2.0" strategies.  Nearly 12 years later, I'm pleased to see that this time, it's real.


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Naturally, I have a million questions for you. But I will stick with the basics for the moment. Since you’ve worked in the industry for more than 10 years, you’ve watched it grow from a small infant to the explosive and sometimes naughty teenager/nearly an adult that it is today. Why would you say that Web 2.0 applications are STILL so explosive? It’s been more than a year since you posted this blog and I’m still finding you because what you have to say is so relevant to what I’m experiencing as a young designer. I’m heavily involved with Web 2.0 and I have to know, why use web 2.0? Why even let users control the content at all? We allow users so much freedom to post whatever they want, whenever they want…I agree with giving them creative freedoms in the retail world and in the user content world, but at what price? Where do we place regulations and when do we stop the madness? Sites like buzzillions, madebig.com, summize, facebook and others are continuously setting the bar higher and higher, not just for themselves but also for retail sites like www.factoryfast.com.au. Is it really fair to force retailers to follow suit in the parade of user-driven content sites that are bringing in more customers than the retail sites could imagine and for the same products? Is it fair for Circuit City to have to change their strategy because their customers are buying at buzzillions instead of their own web site? Or is it better business to just sit back and go with the flow, and allow these user sites to make them millions and/or make a mockery of them at times? And on the same note, is it better for user-driven sites to build their own web 2.0 application or to stick with RSS or to use another web 2.0 that’s already out there? I’m truly interested in what you have to say and I hope that you will either answer my inquiry or make another post on the matter.

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