In a morning keynote session of the Shop.org Summit, Sucharita Mulpuru, VP, principal analyst, Forrester Research sat down to a fireside chat with Michael Rubin, founder and CEO, Kynetic, on "Capitalizing on the Digital Transformation of Commerce." The only thing more impressive than the dynamic presence of the executive in charge of three popular e-commerce businesses, Fanatics, Rue La La and ShopRunner, is the story behind how he got there.
Rubin's entrepreneurial spirit started young: He opened a ski tuning shop in his basement at the age of 12. He eventually turned his small business into a global network of e-commerce solutions known as GSI Commerce. Therefore, Rubin was well equipped to talk to the room of retailers about some of the changes and challenges facing e-commerce today.
When asked about the recent split of PayPal and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) into two separate companies, Rubin had a strong opinion that the move was a smart one that would eventually make both entities more competitive. "To be more competitive it's better to be super focused," he said.
And while Rubin pointed out that eBay CEO John Donahoe was originally against the idea of the split, he probably now realizes this is what's best for both companies. "I've done a lot of 180s in my life. If you get it wrong, then recognize that and then get it right," said Rubin.
Rubin also spoke about Kynetic's partnership with Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), which led a $206 million investment in ShopRunner last year. "When we wanted to raise money for ShopRunner, there was no one better than Alibaba," he said. He went on to say that the giant Chinese company owns 80 percent of the largest e-commerce market in the world and is still growing. "I think they will continue to be aggressive globally," he said. "EBay and Amazon should be nervous. They [Alibaba] are innovative and disruptive."
What was Rubin's opinion on same-day delivery for packages? "What the consumer really wants is fast and free," said Rubin. But he stressed that the dream for most consumers would be same-day delivery and free, and that will most likely never happen. So he believes same-day delivery, at a reasonable cost, maybe in the $5 to $10 range, could fit a niche market. But most retailers, especially smaller ones, should not bother worrying about same-day delivery. "People are over investing in it," he said.
Finally, when asked how Rubin had grown as a leader over the years, he responded that he has learned to become a sponge. "I'm always asking questions. I have really smart people around me and I'm always listening and learning," he said.
See all of FierceRetail's Shop.org 2014 coverage here.
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