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CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

Keeping Our Eyes on E-Commerce


E-commerce is not just for big box retailers and major consumer brands. The $1 trillion industry now continues to experience rapid
growth and is re-seeding innovation within its own sector as well as laterally.

E-tail, similar to any brick and mortar shop,
is about keeping the customer at the heart of the business. However, unlike traditional retail, e-commerce has been much less personal,
forcing those supporting elements around customer engagement to become more critical.

From our vantage point at BLH, many newly formed e-commerce innovators are blending technology and marketing into customer-centric
companies that hold great promise for us as
investors and consumers. Specifically, we look
to split our time looking at innovation taking
place in the tools, platforms, and stores where
engagement occurs.

TOOLS- Video is the needle-mover for driving
awareness online

We see how important and successful the video experience can be for e-commerce growth. This tool helps a business close an engagement gap by creating a richer and more prolonged dialogue between the company, its E-Commerce By Ashish Mistry, Managing Partner, BLH ventures
BLH Venture Partners is an Atlanta-based venture fund that focuses on early-stage technology companies. Founded in 2009 the company has a specific concentration in e-commerce Keeping Our Eye on products and the consumer. For example, one of our e-commerce portfolio companies, KontrolFreek ( attributes 30 percent of
its direct site traffic and sales directly to YouTube. This includes user-generated reviews as well as fan testimonials and unboxing videos. In fact, companies like Joyus ( have taken video one step further, from being a tool to being
their platform for commerce.

PLATFORMS- Mobile is obvious area for growth,
but still in its infancy

So far, major e-tailers have utilized this medium by simply bringing the traditional e-commerce experience onto the mobile device. However, real m-commerce growth lies with the companies most consumers do not even know about. These companies are currently building innovative mobile experiences to help retailers and customers engage bi-directionally for product discovery as well as facilitating the purchase.

STORES-Niches are huge