Get Ready for the Fourth Wave of E-Commerce

Inc Magazine’s article was released on January 24, 2023

e-commerce has had a major impact, particularly for brand manufacturers. It has influenced business in three waves, at roughly 10-year intervals:

  • The first wave of e-commerce began in the 1990s, with the creation of websites of brand manufacturers and retailers like Amazon. At this stage, e-commerce was a novelty.
  • The second wave of e-commerce began in the aughts, when most consumers routinely used e-commerce.
  • The third wave of e-commerce began in the 2010s, when retailers, particularly e-commerce retailers, began to substitute their in-house products for brand manufacturers’ products, using the consumer information advantage they had over the brand manufacturers.

If you think you can afford to let the wave pass you by, think again: It’s likely you’ll face ever-expanding store brands, and declining profit margins from retailers that have ever stronger customer relationships. Because if you don’t talk to your customers, someone else will.

And done well, a strong DTC experience strengthens a brand like this:

  • Builds a defensible stream of consumer interactions and orders, particularly with the most loyal customers
  • Creates a powerful consumer experience that strengthens the emotional connection between the brand and the consumer
  • Provides relevant marketing engagement directly with end consumers
  • Captures and disseminates real-time consumer data-driven insights