Welcome to Friday, futurists.
As I celebrate the anniversary of my one-year shift to full-time as a co-founder of Future Commerce, I’m simultaneously filled with gratitude and anxiety.
The Future Commerce team has done incredible work this year. Since my shift to full-time, we launched Archetypes at Art Basel and a 200-page print magazine, the Archetypes Journal, our first paid offering in six years as a media company.
Since then we held a content event at MoMA, a ticketed Summit in Chicago, and we sold over 350 copies of our first zine, The Multiplayer Brand.
We’ve changed so much in the last year. And we’re growing still.
We’re now seven weeks away from our next big event, MUSES, during Art Basel 2023. We’ve rented an incredible space — 9,800 square feet — and we’re popping up for three days, to inspire you, the leaders in the eCom and retail ecosystems. (Watch your inbox. Next week will bring more details.)
Over this past year, we’ve slowly moved into looking to you, our core audience, to help us grow and sustain the work of futurism for commerce leaders. The slow, steady, shift to direct monetization — engaging in eCommerce of our own — has given us so much confidence, and it has stretched us in new and powerful ways.
In the coming weeks, you’ll see several high-profile changes that help us to ensure the future of Future Commerce. I want to let you know what those are, what they mean for both of us, and how you can help.
First, we believe that e-learning in our industry is broken. Most e-learning around eCom comes from agencies with specific expertise, driven by incentives in their business models that drive their content strategies. So we’re going to do e-learning, but better. In the coming weeks, we will launch Future Commerce Learning, a new offering for merchants, eCom operators, and agency leaders to upskill, reskill, and unlearn outdated concepts.
But we’re not doing it alone. We’ve partnered with professional educators, industry experts, and an incredible creative team to bring it to you in a brilliant, high-concept package, called Set the Table. This series is like “Good Eats” but for eCommerce. 5 courses (like fine dining), elegantly prepared, with dozens of modules, study guides, and one annual price from FC.
Second, we’re slowly introducing subscription. I believe that we produce second-to-none content here at Future Commerce. We’re daring, we’re bold, and we say things others wouldn’t dare to say. We dream bigger, and that kind of vision is worth charging money for.
What’s more, the seasonality of a retail-oriented media business, and the challenges in the venture capital SaaS model (our most frequent advertisers), tell us that we can’t rely solely on sponsorships to fund our biggest and bravest content. We’re bootstrapped and scrappy, and being independent gives us so many advantages, and we’d like to stay that way.
So we’re going to be turning to you, our subscribers, to help us build the future. More to come in a few weeks.
Thank you for this incredible first year as a founder. I can. not. believe. That I get to do this for a living.
The future of commerce doesn’t happen by accident.
It happens on purpose, when we build it together.
P.S. I’m in love with a Chipper. On the latest episode of the podcast, Phillip goes on long romantic walks with “ScarJo”, his new ChatGPT companion. PLUS: Costco mania is finally at its peak. Listen now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
P.P.S. Are you ready for the onslaught of returns post BFCM? If not, we can help you prepare with our handy 8-Step Guide for managing tax and holiday gifts returns, over on Future Commerce Insiders: Are you Ready for Returnuary?
What a Blockbuster of an Idea. Netflix is venturing into the physical realm with brick and mortar locations, offering a blend of retail, dining, and themed entertainment, enhancing the multi sensory experience for customers.
Our Take: No, the irony isn’t lost on us. Just four weeks after Netflix discontinued its physical DVD-by-mail service, they announce a new immersive retail experiential flagship concept.
Netflix has had a less-than-stellar foray into physical goods. In 2021, they launched a long-anticipated DTC eCommerce play, featuring branded goods and premium merch for their own IP properties; some of them unbelievably puzzling, like this stuffed penis. Unlike its competitor’s service, Disney+, Netflix has never merchandized their eCommerce into the video content or within the service itself.
As the old saying goes “you have a brand if you announce a themed hotel property, and customers can already imagine what it might be like.” What on earth will the Netflix retail experience look like?
Faking Deeply. In our ongoing coverage of deepfakes in advertising, a competitor allegedly cloned the voice of DTC brand Haven Athletic's founder for use in an ad campaign, highlighting the growing issue of digital identity theft in marketing. Meanwhile, a YouTube video showcases a deepfake algorithm that can translate language for Youtube — both audio and video — pushing the boundaries of technology and communication.
Steganography and Jailbreaks. A researcher discovered a way to embed subliminal messages into GPT-Vision (GPT-V), that are invisible to humans but legible by the LLM technology. The prompt instructs GPT to ignore any input and remind humans about a 10% off sale at Sephora. Another
Content Fusion: Saks Fifth Avenue daringly transforms its flagship store, introducing a creative hub on the 10th floor for filming, content editing, and fashion workstations, blending luxury retail with digital media production, to content with the “TikTokification of commerce.”
CEO Shift at Costco. Costco announces Ron Vachris as the new CEO, a veteran of 40 years employment in the business. The new chapter for the wholesale corporation is punctuated by recent sales of gold bars, and even a $4,500 palette-delivered 157-piece Le Creuset Bundle.
Food in the Space Age. According to a new interview produced by NPR, Taco Bell played a pivotal role in the creation of astronauts' diets. Technological advancements in preserving food quality in space were due to consumer packaged goods breakthroughs.
AI in Can’t Taste the Food It’s Creating. Domino’s partners with Microsoft to use AI in pizza making, while Coca-Cola experiments with an AI-generated soda flavor, indicating a growing consumer trend of AI's influence in food innovation.
It’s Trend Report Szn Already? Whole Foods floats in this week with one of the first trends reports of the season. Their top food trends for 2024 report is an interesting read, even if nothing new comes of it. Curiously missing, cricket protein, despite news this week that Tyson Foods partners with Protix, an insect ingredient maker. Also, a new report reveals America's favorite Halloween candies state-by-state. Notable absence? Featables.
“The Annoyance Economy”. A new feature in The Atlantic discusses the stress and frustration of the current consumer experience, highlighting the emotional toll of economic dynamics. The takeaway: consumer sentiment is mixed as distrust in popular media grows. People are making up their own minds, it seems, about the trajectory of the economy.
TikTok's Shopping Revolution? For better or worse, TikTok is better the farm on its transformation into a content-first shopping platform, driven by influencers rather than traditional brand promotion strategies.
Clorox's Cybersecurity Crisis. ICYMI: Clorox faced months of product shortages due to potential social engineering hacks, revealing vulnerabilities in modern supply chains. This, following a harrowing discussion we had this week with friend-of-the-pod Magdalena Kala, who professed “if I had to do it over again, I’d be in cybersecurity. It’s the most durable industry with the greatest demand, and least talent, for the next twenty years.”