Ghosts of e-Christmas Future

For Cyber Monday 2015, the future is now for these 5 top selling online retail categories

Ghosts of e-Christmas FutureOver the last 10 years I’ve learned great deal from my front-row seat in the fascinating theater of online retail. My view of the industry from both a broad and detailed perspective allows me to see product categories that are newly important to our collective consciousness as both consumers and sellers, and this year is no different. In 2015, it’s clear that online holiday sales will show unprecedented growth in three brand-new categories, thanks in part to attention and innovations by big marketplaces, selling platforms, fulfillment systems, and manufacturers. And it’s no surprise, five gift categories of recent Christmas sales past are sure to find their way onto Santa’s sleigh as well. Here’s my list of categories, sellers, and products to keep an eye on this Cyber Monday.

 

Handmade Products

All signs point to handmade products and crafts as one of the biggest opportunities for e-commerce growth right now. From Etsy going public and becoming manufacturer-friendly to the launch of Amazon Handmade, holiday 2015 is a great time for makers to embrace e-commerce technology. 

  • Smith Tea: Nothing says “maker” like a tradition as old as a family business of blending teas, especially when it’s updated for ye olde thyme hipster in all of us. Look up “cowbell” on their page of tea terms and you’ll know what I mean.
  • Mostly Sweet: Olde thyme be damned, this ain’t your granny’s jeweler. Hand-forged jewelry seems to be at the core of the modern maker industry, but branding is key for standing out from the crowd. This one uses delicate images from nature, bonded by strong, beautiful metals.  
  • Salacia Salts: Made in the south and inspired by the sea, this kitsch-meets-natural ingredients business is a great example of what happens to makers who embrace technology and sell from multiple locations. Use promo code Web2015 for a 20% discount through 12/31/15.
  • French Girl Organics: A great example of how a marketplace infrastructure can bolster a quality product line—after all, 4,500 5-star reviews on Etsy don’t lie. These lovely french-inspired products would be welcome under any Christmas tree. Use promo code MERCI for a 10% discount.

Innovators

With 578,802 patent applications submitted in 2014, it’s clear the technology age has had an effect on all industries. These days we constantly see new inventions or fresh takes on old ideas, and most of them leave me wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

  • Growler Werks: Smart companies watch trends and make products that support those trends. These days everyone has their own microbrew but no matter how well you’ve balanced the subtle notes of blueberry and pine needles, that stuff goes flat without the right vessel. Problem solved with these beautifully made personal growlers.
  • BioLite Stove: This genius product lives in that ambiguous place between going totally off-the-grid and having a phone implanted in your brain. Either way, this company is changing lives by allowing people all over the world to generate electricity—and charge their devices—with a simple campfire.  
  • Under the Weather: There are two types of parents: Dedicated parents who are at every soccer game and track meet no matter the rain, wind, or snow; and dedicated parents of superior intelligence who attend every sporting event cozy and warm, maybe even sipping a latte, in one of these nifty whole-body umbrellas.  
  • Swaddle Designs: A perfect example of an innovator that lived long enough to build a brand. One of the first companies to address the parental pain point of swaddling and colic, they were at the forefront of the e-commerce baby boom. Now they sell all manner of quality baby products. Use promo code swaddle20 for a 20% discount on regular items.
  • Soapsox: This plush toy-washcloth combo was developed to make bath-time less stressful for children of trauma. Turns out all kids love these fun characters. Created by innovative dads who’ve cornered the market on cute. Use promo code Web30 for a 30% online discount.

Disruptors

Oh how we love buzzwords, and one of my current favorites is “disruptor.” In e-commerce, that means selling or manufacturing something that changes the nature of the product, how the product is sold, or the industry at large. For example, selling mattresses, razors, or eyeglasses online introduces much needed competition and variety to these formerly fallow industries.

  • Betabrand: A crowd-funded business model that changes the clothing industry two-fold: Once by turning customers into investors, and twice by pushing innovation and transparency around affordable clothing design.
  • Golden Gate Wine Cellars: Buying wine online? What’s next, a virtual spittoon? Turns out, with the right education and high-touch customer service, we no longer need to sit through tastings to find new favorites. Their rare wines section is made for holiday gifting. Use promo code ECC2015 for an online discount.
  • Oru Kayak: Design to die for, this beautiful kayak folds and unfolds into a convenient box. These guys are redefining the kayak industry and I wouldn’t be surprised if the car roof-rack business sends out an SOS in short order.

Classics

It seems the more technology seeps into our lives, the more comfort we feel when giving gifts that have stood the test of time. So if you’re not going to personally knit blankets for all your loved ones, have a look at businesses built on classic products that have remained relevant with the help of technology.

  • Pennington & Bailes: Whether you’re 25 or 75, every day is a good day to wear your school colors, especially when they’re done up in authentic game day tradition. This company does a great job of navigating the tightrope between licensing and multiple sales channels.   
  • Eugene Toy & Hobby: In business for 80 years and run by five generations of toy lovers, this mom-and-pop store allows us to #ShopSmall without sacrificing variety and value.  
  • Tudor Games: What’s more classic than football? These electric versions do well with both the littles and the bigs—and will certainly keep everyone out of your hair while you get Christmas dinner on the table.  
  • Beaufort Bonnet Company: Great news. You don’t have to be Amish to enjoy a beautifully-made baby bonnet. These folks built a brand on the universal truth known by all mothers and grandmothers: There is no baby more precious than yours. Use promo code Webgility for a 15% discount through December 31, 2015.

Eco-Friendly

According to a new Nielsen study, 55% of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Sounds like a winning business model to me. Here are some solid e-commerce companies doing right by the planet:

  • Alchemy Goods: Up-cycled bicycle tubes made into cool-ass, useful stuff like bags, wallets, and belts. File this one under “how to keep massive amounts of rubber out of landfills.”  
  • Life Without Plastic: Speaking of landfills, these determined folks have everything you need to encourage a loved one to break up with plastic forever. Another online enterprise inspired by the birth of a child. Use promo code WEBGILITY for a 10% discount through December 31, 2015.
  • Blithe and Bonny: In case you didn’t get the memo, microbeads found in exfoliators are one of the nature’s big foes, among many other things. Suffice it to say, Mother Earth herself would keep Blithe and Bonny beauty products in her bathroom vanity.

And there you have it, my take on this year’s most important online retail categories and the fascinating businesses and products that are thriving at their core. Because they are all Webgility customers, I can vouch for their legitimacy as e-commerce innovators who are revolutionizing the e-commerce industry every day, oftentimes without even knowing it. Happy shopping.

By Parag Mamnani

Best #eCommerce companies and their game-changing products for holiday gifting. #unify #giftguide Click To Tweet

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