The Monoculture That Is eCommerce

PLUS: Bucket O’ Mac
May 3, 2023

“Are we delivering real, valuable insights?” I wondered aloud recently. It was around the time we launched our 300th episode, and I was in my feels, futurists.

When we launched our podcast in June of 2016, we were one of three ongoing, perpetual, eCommerce-centric podcasts. Way back then, my metric for a valuable show was “insights per minute” — if I could tally 10-12 solid “aha” moments in a show, I was happy.

Seven years hence, the ecosystem is now very mature; as evidenced by the explosion of niche content in the space.

There’s a podcast for Jewish founders. There’s a podcast celebrating failures. There’s a podcast for 9-figure operators. Even SaaS companies have podcast networks.

You think it’s never been easier to launch a brand? Honey, it’s never been easier to launch a podcast. Why so many [narcissists] shows?

This nicheification is only possible when you have subcultures that go unrepresented by the larger monoculture. Monoculture is something we often equate to old media: appointment TV viewing, sporting events, late-night talk shows. But as eCommerce becomes more prolific, and captures more of retail spend, the industry at large becomes its own monoculture, unrepresentative of the niches that make up the larger whole.

The creator economy is a subculture of eCommerce. CPG and DTC are also subcultures. Optimization, Amazon, performance marketing, subscription, celebrity brands, wellness; anything that has an industry-specific event will eventually have its own media brands that serve it, each with their own in-groups and out-groups.

So coming back to our original question — how do we deliver real, tangible insights, when the world of eCom is so thoroughly faceted? I think that the answer is, simply, you don’t. The subcultures determine what is valuable, and they already perpetuate their own knowledge within their tightly-knit communities.

As we’ve grown here at Future Commerce we’ve shifted to thinking about bigger ideas — about how people behave, where they spend time, and what makes them buy the things that they do. These larger, strategic, and visionary modes of thinking are the kinds of ideas people typically spend big dollars to gain. While not tactical, the kind of cultural insights that we deliver are truly one-of-a-kind in the eCommerce and retail industry.

We have an ethos and a pathos: we believe commerce unites us, and that what we buy is a facet of who we are.

So, “insights per minute” is out as a metric. “You really made me think” is the highest compliment you can pay to us here at Future Commerce. 

Thinking is cool. We should do more of it.

— Phillip

P.S. I let JFK Jr.’s parasocial avatar choose my outfit for the Poolsuite x Ralph Lauren party. Listen to the story now, on Apple, Spotify, or wherever podcasts are found.

Photo by Cesar Done on Unsplash

Guess Who’s Back? Century 21 is reopening its flagship Wall Street location this month. After having to shut its doors in 2020, the red bag discount store is finally returning.

Supermarket Struggle. Shoppers throughout Europe and the Middle East are experiencing grocery shortages as supermarkets struggle to predict demand. The pandemic changed shoppers habits, and that combined with the current high cost of living have grocery chains scratching their heads on what to order from suppliers.

More Sights & Sounds. Vice may be headed for bankruptcy in the weeks ahead, according to off-the-record insider info — the brash media company has been struggling to find a buyer. Nordstrom is leaving San Francisco. Tuesday Morning is going out of business and customers have until May 13 to use giftcards before store closures. Estée Lauder shares are dropping as the company’s recovery in the Asian travel market continues its lull. Following Meta’s expansive layoffs, stock prices are up and Mark Zuckerberg is the 12th richest person on earth. And introducing, “Bond. Jaimes Bond.” Zuck says he’s not ditching the metaverse, rather, he plans to bring “A.I. agents” to the world. And a Spotify playlist helped a startup raise $20 million.

Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

Footwear Failure and Fanfare.  Adidas investors are suing the German sportswear company for not cutting ties with Ye sooner than it did, citing that the company was aware of the risks of the partnership. Investors say their financial losses could have been decreased if more precautions had been taken. Meanwhile, the company is releasing a Golden Ticket NFT, valid for one year, that gives access to purchase an exclusive drop.

Hold That Thought. Lawmakers have asked the SEC to pause the Shein IPO until the Chinese company has been audited. U.S. representatives want verification that the fashion giant does not use forced labor.

Buckets of Yum. Costco has started selling a child-sized portion of mac and cheese — no like it’s the size of a literal child. The nearly 27-pound bucket, which contains 180 servings of elbow pasta and cheese sauce will definitely feed Elon, Nick Cannon, and all of their children once the zombie apocalypse hits.

Screenshot: Museum of Failure/Gizmodo

Failure As An Artform. If you are the type of person who feels like a winner just by knowing that you’re at least not a loser… may we suggest The Museum of Failure, a traveling showcase of more than 150 of the biggest failures of our time. Currently on display in Brooklyn’s Industry City, now through June.

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