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SXSW Interactive 2015

E-Commerce:Why Location is [Still] Everything!

Conventional wisdom holds that the Internet makes the world flat and reduces friction by erasing the impact of the physical world on our buying habits.
But Wharton prof and marketing expert David R. Bell argues that the way we use the Internet is still largely shaped by the physical world we live in.
Anyone can buy jeans online, but the likelihood we will depends significantly on where we live. The presence of stores nearby, trendy neighbors, and local sales taxes, etc., play a critical role in our online buying decisions as does where we live and whom we live next to.
Bell’s talk offers a fascinating look at online commerce and retailing through his years of research, investing, and advising. His GRAVITY framework is a practical tool that uses basic human behaviors and location-based conditions to explain how the real and virtual worlds intersect. Entrepreneurs, students, and investors will all benefit from understanding how and why we use the Internet to search, shop, and sell.

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  1. Does my e-commerce brand need a real-world presence?
  2. If I’m an e-commerce brand and I open a physical store, will that help or hurt my online sales in the area around the store?
  3. What do I need to know about where my customers are situated in the real world to understand how that can impact my company’s online sales?
  4. Frictions like delivery times, return costs, etc., can be frustrating, so how can I identify and eliminate them?
  5. Isolation offline becomes liberation online. How can I identify my isolated customer base so I can invest in and better serve them?



David Bell, Xinmei Zhang and Yongge Dai Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Branding and Marketing
  • Level: Advanced
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