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商业 - 科技

时尚电商企业面临的尴尬难题

Erin Griffith 2016年03月02日

这个行业早就遭受了饱和竞争之苦,模仿者们推高了获客成本,加快了创业公司的烧钱速度,还让购物者陷入了“低价疲劳”。但这些创业公司并不会学会聚焦于基本面,而是会一窝蜂奔向下一个热门的战略。

我敢说,没有哪类创业公司的投资,能比电子商务公司更难于实现投资大撤退了,尤其是当这些投资价值10亿美元以上的时候。事实证明,和亚马逊竞争并非易事,志向远大的创业者们必须要有越来越别出心裁的战略,才能使自己有别于电商巨头。问题在于,和一切时尚一样,每次电子商务模式的新招数最终都会过时。

你恐怕还记得2012年的订阅式电子商务大潮吧,我把它们称之为“填盒子模式”。这是个聪明的办法:向订户发送一箱就连他们自己都不知道想要什么的组合产品,以实现经常性的营业收入。没过多久,每家新成立的填盒子创业公司就令人越来越感到可笑:什么订购型香水、狗玩具、腊肉,甚至还有金•卡戴姗推销的细高跟鞋。投资者很快认识到,这种模式差不多就是当月果酱会员店在21世纪的变种。当时,那些商家就是靠每月向会员提供一两种比较独特的果酱来赚钱的,可是,随后就悄然发生了合并、关店、业务调整等大整顿。

订阅式电子商务之后,是“内容与商务”,这个时尚由盛转衰过快,因此更像是昙花一现,并没有形成真正的潮流。这个创意(即将编辑纳入商店)没能给大多数创业公司增加利润。2015年,这类创业公司的领头羊Thrillist公司拆分了它的电子商务和媒体业务。创始人本•勒尔向科技网站Recode承认,让这两种业务共享资源“并不是最有成效的作法”。

最近,电子商务界最热门的东西要算“ClassPass化”。这是一种将按月付费与各种体验相结合的时尚,因为ClassPass公司的成功而兴起。这是一家融资充足的创业公司,销售加盟健身房提供的无限健身课程,每月收费100美元。

在其带动下,目前已经有了吹头发的ClassPass(Vive,月费65美元),按摩的ClassPass(Zeel公司的Zealot计划,月费不等),以及现场音乐会的ClassPass(Juekly,月费25美元)。也许,把这种新模式说成是潮流还为时过早,但是,从过去的电子商务创新来看,它在这个世界上也存在不了太久。

所有这些新近的电子商务模式都是衍生自一切零售潮流之母:限时抢购。1月份,限时抢购网站Gilt Groupe以令人痛苦的低价遭到并购,它筹集了2.8亿美元,却只卖了2.5亿美元。

实际上,包括限时抢购,及其变种——天天低价在内,这个行业早就遭受了饱和竞争之苦。模仿者们推高了获客成本,加快了创业公司的烧钱速度,还让购物者陷入了“低价疲劳”。如今,这种模式终于咽了气。

但这些创业公司并不会学会聚焦于基本面(比如供应链管理或是客户服务),而是会一窝蜂奔向下一个热门的战略。想想看,2012年,当Groupon和Gilt明显不能实现它们的过高预期的时候,其他模仿者便远离了这一模式。

令人不解的是,经过了这种血洗,很多电子商务创业仍然去追逐时髦的新型商业模式。不过,解释起来也简单:只要亚马逊存在,电子商务新潮流就会存在。杰夫•贝佐斯领导的这家电商巨头在价格、选择和服务方面都已成为赢家,剩下的只有别出心裁了。(财富中文网)

译者:天文

It’s hard to name a category of startups that has struggled to produce big, billion-dollar exits more than e-commerce. Competing with Amazon isn’t easy, it turns out, and aspiring Davids have turned to ever more novel strategies to differentiate themselves from Goliath. The problem? Like anything trendy, each new twist on the e-commerce model eventually goes out of style.

Perhaps you remember the great subscription commerce wave of 2012—as I called it, stuff-in-a-box. It was a clever way to score recurring revenue by sending subscribers a container of curated stuff they didn’t even know they wanted. It didn’t take long for each new stuff-in-a-box startup to feel increasingly ridiculous: subscription perfumes, dog toys, cured meats, even stilettos hawked by Kim Kardashian. Investors quickly realized the model was little more than a 21st-century twist on the Jam of the Month club, and the subsequent shakeout, marked by mergers, shutdowns, and pivots, happened quietly.

After subscription commerce came “content and commerce,” a trend that peaked so fast it’s more of a blip than a full-fledged fad. The idea—tacking an editorial operation onto a store—failed to increase profits for most startups, and last year the leader of the pack, Thrillist, split its e-commerce and media businesses. Founder Ben Lerer conceded to technology website Recode that it was “not the most productive” for the two to share resources.

Lately the hottest thing in e-commerce is “ClassPass for X,” a trend that combines monthly subscription fees with experiences. (Millennials love experiences, I’m told.) It follows the success of ClassPass, a well-funded startup that sells unlimited fitness classes at participating studios for about $100 a month. There is already a ClassPass for hair blowouts (Vive; $65 per month), massages (Zeel’s Zeelot program; cost varies), and live music (Jukely; $25 per month). It’s too soon to call this new model a fad, but if past e-commerce innovations are any indication, it may not be long for this world.

All of these recent e-commerce models are descendants of the mother of all retail fads: flash sales. With the January acquisition of Gilt Groupe at a painfully low price—it raised $280 million but sold for just $250 million—the model has finally croaked. Flash sales (and its cousin, daily deals) suffered from oversaturation. Copycats drove up the price of acquiring customers, which accelerated startups’ burn rates, and prompted shopper “deal fatigue.” When it became clear in 2012 that Groupon and Gilt would not live up to their soaring expectations, copycats pivoted away from the model. But instead of focusing on the fundamentals (supply-chain management, say, or customer service), many of them simply latched onto the next hot strategy.

With such carnage, it’s puzzling that so many e-commerce entrepreneurs continue to chase buzzy new business models. But the explanation is simple: As long as there’s an Amazon, there will be e-commerce fads. The Jeff Bezos–led behemoth has already won on price, selection, and service. All that leaves is novelty.

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