It’s about time for me to retire the t-shirt pictured here; but there’s an exciting eCommerce story behind it.
In 1999 the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dale Sundby, backed by CBS launched a site called StoreRunner.com. It was one of a handful of sites that brought together multiple retailers with a focus on local inventory categorized to create a great user experience – we’d call this a marketplace today.
CBS put down $100 million of media to help kick start the customer acquisition and they tested the site in Dallas, TX where I was living at the time. One of their acquisition levers was a $15,000 Ultimate Shopper giveaway.
There is still a site at www.storerunner.com today even if the company has died and been born again several times since then, but it’s a pale shadow of its former self; in fact probably a worse consumer experience than they delivered on their own v1 more than 20 years ago.
What Dale launched back then is still relevant today – and we haven’t moved the needle much further forward:
- Customer acquisition is (almost) everything and just as StoreRunner needed CBS; today’s eComm players need broad reach and strong brands to bring in their customers.
- Consumers want multiple products and retailers in one place, look at the strength of Amazon, eBay, TMall, Mercado Libre, and my good friends Jumia.
- Buy online, or pick up instore; instant gratification, short delivery timelines, click & collect before we even knew the term.
- Organising the products for a great customer experience; eComm design hasn’t really changed much since then, and creating that great brand & shopping experience is still our nirvana.
Of course I won the t-shirt, and the competition – and spent $15,000 of mall vouchers with a few good friends. I was a bit of a geek in those days (and still am) – and when the journalist asked me how I did… I answered that I’d practiced shopping the night before!
For StoreRunner and for me, timing is everything.