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“Alienating and Borderline Pretentious”

Or, things we heard this week
August 25, 2023

Welcome to Friday, futurists.

What a week. Instacart and Klaviyo** filed their S-1’s with the SEC today. While others in the space break down the implication, one thing is certain — the digital economy is beginning to feel optimistic again. We won’t bother, because Brian’s currently doing a wine tasting in Napa and I’m writing this newsletter. 

Side note: ChatGPT doesn’t like SEC.gov links. 

Speaking of optimism, our forthcoming report on the state of GenAI in Commerce shows that eCom operators are more than twice as likely to stay in the eCom job they already have — if it becomes permissive in its use of AI in order to upskill, vs switch careers (71% vs 29% respectively). Our report drops next week, go ahead and pre-save it using the link above to get ahead of the pack.

And, just for fun, here’s a collection of things overheard this week in the world of Future Commerce.

  • “While they do great work, [Future Commerce] also come off as very highbrow to the point where it's often alienating and sometimes even borderline pretentious. (Finally, someone gets us.)

  • “[Future Commerce] has discovered that eCommerce has a soul and those with souls are capable of being soulful. There are few other true thinkers in this space… the soul Phillip found can be sung and danced.” (This is in reference to our new zine, The Multiplayer Brand. Grab your copy today.)

  • “Gabrielle Fonrouge is the Grim Reaper of Retail.” (Following poor earnings returns for Peloton, Nike, and Dick’s, the CNBC retail reporter took aim at retailers blaming retail organized crime for slumping sales.)

Happy Friday. 

—Phillip

P.S. Does love, sex, and dating impact what we buy? How ‘bout where we buy it? According to columnist Melissa Henderson, the future of commerce is intrinsically connected to our ‘ship status. Soft launch your portmanteau with the latest episode of the podcast, Episode 317: Dating, Dupes, and “Delulu”.

** Klaviyo is an advertising partner with Future Commerce

Image by Soren Iverson

A Real-LIfe Example of Hyperstition. As covered in The Multiplayer Brand, designers who jokingly create mock interfaces of popular websites are driving real product innovation. Less than a month after designer Soren Iverson posted a mockup depicting a “child-free zone” upsell on an airline booking app, Dutch airline Corendon announced precisely the same feature

You Can’t ‘Tok Shop. TikTok reportedly plans to ban external e-commerce links, pushing users towards its own shop, despite denials. A move reminiscent of its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, and follows similar bans to competitive sites by X (formerly Twitter).

“No Human for You.” A leaked email contains details to Shopify’s plans to cut human-led support for 16,000 Shopify Plus merchants. This follows the announcement of a GPT-4-powered chat support interface, Sidekick

The Unholy Alliance. Shein and Forever 21 unite in a fast-fashion Voltron, allowing mutual merchandise sales and returns. This strategic move aims to diversify Shein's product range and boost Forever 21's global reach, while presumably disproving every thinkpiece from 2018 that declared Gen Z’s affinity and activism for sustainability.

“California Sober”. A Twitter thread documents spurious data that depicts an attitudinal shift away from alcohol to marijuana. Who’s to blame? Well, Twitter. 

Image copyright Marvel

(Nostalgic) Commerce is Culture. Loki Season 2 will feature a plotline that intertwines with various cultural institutions; including McDonald’s. The scenes take place in a mid-80s setting. 

Our Take: VISIONS: Volume IV cited numerous examples of the nostalgic loops that are fueling media, fashion, culture, and of course, commerce. 

One of our discoveries in this year’s report research was that film and television are trending toward period pieces because modern technology break most plotlines. Cultural artifacts — like brands and retail — are the surest way to set the viewer in the mindset of the suspension of disbelief.

Then again, our belief in superhero franchises may need to be suspended indefinitely.

The Hot Girls Love Sardines. Millennial-focused brands like Fishwife have begun a trend of tinned fish that are taking the TikTok girlies by storm. Pubs in London have begun to offer menus with an array of expensive and colorful tins of fish as upsells. Fish-centric apparel has also begun to catch on. 

Definding Freedom With S’mores. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s eCommerce footprint exploded onto the social media scene this week. The employee store sells LM-branded items in bulk, including a 12-pack of freedom-branded Hersheys s’more kits. What doesn’t say domestic freedom? The site is built on Wordpress.

(Image credit: Placidplace)

On My Wavelength. Scientists at the University of California have recreated Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" using patients' brainwaves. This innovative approach, led by neurologist Professor Robert Knight, utilized artificial intelligence to decode and rebuild the song from brainwave recordings. No word yet on how the technology can be used to boost your conversion rate, eCom Chads.

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