The eCommerce lies

When it comes to internet headlines we’re easily impressed, mislead, and bullied by sneaky or irrelevant data, meaningless charts, fast talking metrics monkeys, and cement-head marketing mavens who know even less than we do.  The bottom line is that online commerce constitutes just 6% of retail activity and good old brick and mortar retail activity constitutes 94% yet writers love to try and make headlines about the rise of ecommerce. 

According to Bob Hoffman “the digital industry is full of sneaky little bastards whose “facts” and “data” usually turn out to be either intentionally misleading, willfully incomplete, or stone cold bullshit.  Meanwhile the pitiful trade press — devoid of perspective or skepticism — swallows this garbage whole and publishes it with a tone of gee-whiz boosterism that would embarrass a high school newspaper editor“.

Now take the recent article “Smartphones are killing Black Friday“. The article says “data from Adobe as of Thanksgiving afternoon shows online sales at retailers on Thanksgiving day at over $1.5 billion — an increase of nearly 17% over this time and day last year. The average online order is also up more than 3% on Thanksgiving”. OK, but let’s look at it another way.

Let’s say that that sales for an item are $100 million and that ecommerce accounts for 5% of those sales at $5 million.  However, last year the online sales were $2 million. So the increase is %150 which would make great headlines but still ignore that a huge part of sales are done offline.  So the headline “eCommerce Sales up 150% are sure to get more buzz than the facts, but this is what journalists do, they develop headlines to capture our attention.

Then there are the research companies who also try and dazzle us with their bullshit.  I actually saw, on the news, a retail analyst say that retailers were integrating entertainment in their stores to help draw people. Ha? What draws people is not entertainment but low prices, a clean store and a good shopping experience not a clown doing tricks at the door.

You shouldn’t be impressed by headlines without reading the article and thinking on your own. Just because a journalist writes something on Business Insider doesn’t make it true.

 

 

 

 

 

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