The message from the show floor at this year's National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show is that the digital crowd has now come of age and is setting the pace on Main Street. The retailers I spoke to at the event demonstrated they're now fully engaged with the challenges of providing omnicommerce to their customers.
It would be fair to call Etsy, which bowed in 2005, a disruptor. The online marketplace birthed a new business model that gives independent designers a global platform to sell everything from handmade jewelry to vintage clothing and home furnishings. But lately mainstream, national chains like Nordstrom and West Elm have been turning to Etsy — which swelled to $895.1 million in sales in 2012, up from $525.6 million in 2011 — to inject their stores’ merchandise with a patina of one-of-a-kind-handcraft authenticity, much like many big Hollywood studios set up independent film divisions to burnish their art-house cinema bonafides.