Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor
By Allan Maurer
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – Mobile e-commerce is surely coming, but right now it’s “Mostly sizzle and no steak,” says ChannelAdvisor founder and CEO Scot Wingo. In a interview discussing e-c0mmerce trends and entrepreneurship, Wingo said, “There is a lot of interest in social and mobile that hasn’t spilled over to ecommerce yet, but it will.”
Wingo, who founded ChannelAdvisor nine and half years ago, says he hears a lot of interesting thinking and sees experimentation around Twitter and Ipad and other newer players in the digital field, but doesn’t see social and mobile driving a material amount of sales yet.
ChannelAdvisor will be ready when it does. It launched a mobile web store app late in the summer as part of its premium offering, which helps retailers easily launch mobile stores for all cell phones.
ChannelAdvisor, which provides enables retailers to submit one inventory feed to ChannelAdvisor’s platform where it is translated and optimized to fit the specifications of online channels and distributed accordingly, does see ecommerce picking up.
Holiday season looking good
“It slowed to single digit growth or even was negative at the height of the recession, late 2008 and 2009,” says Wingo. “But in the first quarter of 2010 it came back up to 10 percent growth, then to 15 percent in the second quarter and it looks like high teens or 20 percent in this quarter. That more aggressive growth pattern bodes well for the holiday season.”
Wingo notes that the company is seeing a lot of interesting new ideas and trends. They include local deals, deals of the day, and services such as Groupon. “Flash sales are big and we’re seeing subscription models applied to ecommerce.” He calls that the “Netflixzation of ecommerce.”
That’s especially prevalent for replenishable items such as diapers, which a company such as Diapers.com addresses, which will let a customer set up automatic delivery.
Also, he says, “Everyone keeps pushing for low price or free shipping.”
Wingo, who is one of dozens of Internet experts, executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists participating in the third Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC, Nov. 17-18, will address these trends and also talk about entrepreneurship at the event.
Wingo says the barrier to entry into the ecommerce field is much lower than it was when he started ChannelAdvisor nearly a decade ago. The company has raised about $85 million in venture backing.
Things such as cloud computing and software as a service have made it much easier for entrepreneurs with a passion to get up and running. “Ten years ago we needed to buy servers and such. If we started now we probably wouldn’t need to raise $85 million,” he says.
ChannelAdvisor itself deals with numerous entrepreneurs, many of whom bring a passion and knowledge about a product to the table when they launch online. As examples, he cites a model train buff who started Trainz.com and a woman who started a beaded jewelry site.
Both found gaps in the online marketplace, saw a need and filled it, the classic formula for business success, he says.
Wingo has actively assisted other entrepreneurs for much of his career and participates in Southern Capitol Ventures Calling All Entrepreneurs events that allow people with ideas for startups to come in and pitch. We hear he offers sound critical advice.
Even at ChannelAdvisor, as the name implies, advice is part of the company equation, he says. “We’re about 80 percent software, 20 percent advice,” he says. At one of the company’s events for its clients earlier this year, several of its customers told us they relied on both.