FORTUNE -- With 9 million active readers, Thrillist Media Group will bring in more than $100 million in revenue this year, according to chief executive Ben Lerer. During a recent visit to the Thrillist New York offices, Fortune asked him for his thoughts on the future of commerce.
It's the first in an occasional series we're tentatively calling "Five Minutes on the Future." Here's what Lerer had to say.
First there was Commerce 1.0. That was Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Zappos [which now belongs to Amazon -Ed.]. This was all about easier, faster, and cheaper. How do you find things fast? You go to Google (GOOG) or you go to Amazon. Both are about fulfilling existing demand. You know what you want and you go and get it. It's not about discovery. It's a very deliberate process, and efficiency is of the utmost importance.
Then there was Commerce 2.0. That's Web 2.0 sites like Gilt or Fab. It was all about inspiration shopping. They're creating demand out of thin air. And some of those businesses are really good businesses. Many of these businesses hold less inventory, do more consignment, do more drop ship, but ultimately don't have the staples in their categories available at all times. They are all about creating new demand and really not focused on capturing demand that already exists [which is where the most volume ultimately sits]. It's inspiration shopping. It's all about curation, deals, and time-based events.
But, at the end of the day, most people spend money on things they need. That's why Fab isn't the multi-billion dollar opportunity the press wanted it to be. Sure [the well-funded e-commerce company] had its mismanagement issues, but at the end of the day there was nothing on that site that was something that you really needed.
Now we're at the beginning of Commerce 3.0. Every day you surprise and delight people by showing them interesting things, and then you layer on great storytelling on a daily basis. But then you also have the persistent inventory in the staple categories. People come to your store more often because they never know what they're going to find and what they could discover. When they get there, they spend more money buying the basics that they actually need. It's been four years since we acquired JackThreads, and we've gotten really good into making a reader into a shopper and a shopper into a reader. We will do more than $100 million in revenues this year, and I believe we can be a $1 billion business.
How do you compete with Amazon? By having things that Amazon doesn't have. At Thrillist, we sell you stuff you need that you can't find anywhere else. Almost half of what we sell is exclusive to us, with a big portion of that stuff actually being made by us. You can't price-check an item on Amazon that they don't cover.
Plus, fashion is a category that is particularly tough for a company like Amazon that is so focused on the Commerce 1.0 model. Inspiration isn't in its DNA, and it thinks about curation as something that an algorithm does, not a brand or a person. This is counter to what social media is all about, and people who are raised on social media don't only want an algorithm telling them what they should buy. They want to trust the brands that sell them things, and fashion is a category that Amazon doesn't have trust in.
Did you enjoy this new feature? Let us know in the comments.
Newspapers and news television shows are to blame for the venture capitalist's controversial views -- which means they are working exactly as intended.
FORTUNE -- It is immutably true that to a hammer everything looks like a nail. To me these days, every conversation devolves into a lesson about the power of media.
Much ink has been spilled -- and yes, I mean for you to ponder my metaphor for at least MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Feb 18, 2014 2:15 PM ET
Daniel Eran Dilger rips into lazy journalism on the iOS v. Android beat.
FORTUNE -- If you like your pro-Apple agitprop straight -- right out of the bottle, no ice, no water -- Daniel Eran Dilger is your man.
Dilger, if you're not familiar with the byline, is Apple's (AAPL) fiercest defender at AppleInsider, one of the Internet's most prominent Apple news and rumor websites.
He was on a tear Saturday, ripping into the tech MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 16, 2014 7:12 AM ET
It's nearly 2014. Why are we still debating the value of paying for good, quality journalism?
FORTUNE -- Anyone who follows me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook knows a little something about my reading habits. Although I like to think I'm as proficient at and knowledgeable about social media as anyone my age -- see the feature Jessi Hempel and I recently wrote about the buzzy mobile application Snapchat -- my journalism consumption MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Dec 26, 2013 7:52 AM ET
"I don't know a single filmmaker who doesn't admire what's going on on Netflix or on cable."
By John Gaudiosi
FORTUNE -- The unrated, extended director's cut of The Wolverine is now available across all platforms from Fox Home Entertainment, and director James Mangold has unveiled his ultimate vision of the blockbuster film. The $414 million the movie made at the global box office was impressive, but Mangold had his hand MOREDec 4, 2013 2:07 PM ET
The story was in the caveats, but most of the tech press missed them.
FORTUNE -- The headline on IDC's press release Tuesday was guaranteed to catch the attention of anyone in the media looking for signs of Apple's (AAPL) impending doom.
Android Pushes Past 80% Market Share While Windows Phone Shipments Leap 156.0% Year Over Year in the Third Quarter
To IDC's credit, it couched most of its numbers in the proper context. It pointed MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 13, 2013 8:36 AM ET
Great journalism doesn't come cheap.
FORTUNE -- Late last week I posted a short essay on LinkedIn, where I am an Influencer, called "The best case study you'll ever read." In it, I slagged boring business-school case studies and celebrated a fantastic article in the current issue of Fortune magazine by Jennifer Reingold about the Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital's takeover of Heinz. Where I provided a link to the article, MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Oct 21, 2013 10:58 AM ET
As mobile device use increases, TV viewership is cratering. Games are the entertainment of the future, and free-to-play is the future of games.Oct 16, 2013 10:22 AM ET
After Rupert Murdoch spent so many years pursuing the Chinese market, 21st Century Fox is now reducing its exposure.
FORTUNE -- It is an iron-clad rule of the contemporary business landscape: Invest in China or imperil your future growth. It's noteworthy, then, that one of the most aggressive western companies in terms of trying to crack the China nut is more or less giving up the fight.
21st Century Fox, the film MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Sep 20, 2013 8:40 AM ET
A glib statement from incoming Post owner Jeff Bezos demands scrutiny. The last thing the Post should do is to mindlessly chase the youth demo.
FORTUNE -- "All businesses need to be young forever," Jeff Bezos told Washington Post staffers on Wednesday. "If your customer base ages with you, you're Woolworth's."
A pithy statement -- glib, even. Not entirely inaccurate, but also not quite accurate, and not anything the Post (WPO) should MOREDan Mitchell, contributor - Sep 6, 2013 11:03 AM ET
|The Deep Web you don't know about|
|Pizza chain Sbarro files for bankruptcy|
|AT&T cuts prices again|
|More trouble for Boeing's Dreamliner|
|Invest $1 million, try for a U.S. green card|