The eCommerce revolution has finally reached maturity with the rise of Amazon at the expense of shopping malls everywhere. Today, we celebrate Prime Day, or in the new venacular, primeday. Those of us who thought the death of print was just around the corner, just around the corner… are still waiting. Print is on life support, but breathing, a very tough business currently in survival mode. So too I guess, there will always be brick and mortar shops, but selling what? I can’t think of a single purchase that isn’t, at least prefaced or determined by a goodly amount of online research. Pinterest, anyone?
I left my advertising studio when a decent opportunity came to participate in the headlong rush to join what we used to call the ‘information highway’. I tried bringing my clients along. I traveled with my trusty Mac tucked in the back seat, also a huge definitely not portable monitor, plus 50 feet of handy dandy telephone cord – and the promise of the future riding shotgun. I showed the internet to innumerable retail and real estate firms. Get ready I said, it’s coming. It did, but I was too early.
Rarely was I invited back for a second showing. The big ‘however’ loomed large, as the firms fought within themselves over questions like, ‘Who owns this, marketing, sales or technology?’ ‘What can we do with it?’ ‘Where’s THIS headed?’ And the dreaded, ‘Whose budget’s going to take this hit?’ Once I was called after my second presentation by a high school kid, the nephew of the COO, who they would trust to get a site up and running. This, for a major home builder. It was still early days.
So I joined Mississauga-based eCommerce Inc. as their creative director. Yep, we had the rights to the name and the domain url too. Together we ‘made’ over 30 internet sites for government, major newspapers, retail, banks, fast food, well… everyone. We were so ahead, we moved downtown. We even reinvented the way large, complex sites are made. In spite of several enormous, successful projects, the company struggled year over year. Due to finance issues, we kept getting eaten by bigger and bigger fish until our final demise, the group was bought by a large consultancy, at that point the largest private one in Canada. I was never satisfied that they knew what to do with us… as they blew their brains out over, remember this one… Y2K?
This is, in microcosm, what happened then and what keeps happening now all over the big business world. Little smart fish, ahead of their time either floundered or bought bigger fish, or were consumed by them. Some jumped on the Netscape wagon, eventually to be disappointed. Casualties litter our main streets: Blockbuster, Kodak, now Sears? Too many to list here, each humbled by increasingly savvy online competitors.
This was not our main eCommerce logo at the time. I think I dreamed it up for a print package promoting the firm, then 40+ strong. But the image of the retro business man, seemingly from the 50’s, in typical ‘grey flannel suit’ fashion, striding over the world still resonates for me. I include it here, if only for the satisfaction of saying, ‘I was there’, when information was set free, and yet we are still completely, ever more and more each day, ‘wired’.