Roxanne Varza © @Francois/eventpixr

Interview with Roxanne Varza: Why Ecommerce matters

James Martin Trends

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Microsoft Ventures’ startup lead — and co-founder of Girls in Tech France/UK & Failcon France — is the curator of LeWeb’14’s Ecommerce trend, which will gather some of the world’s most disruptive online retail startups in Paris early December. We spoke to Varza to get an idea of what to expect…
LeWeb Blog: Why did you accept to curate LeWeb’14’s Ecommerce trend?
Roxanne Varza: Because LeWeb is AWESOME. I actually attended my first LeWeb event in 2009 and this will now be my 5th time going! Wow. And even after all this time, the event still reigns as one of Europe’s premier startup events. I always love the content: some of my favourite speakers in previous years have included Nick D’Aloisio, Kevin Systrom and Sean Parker. I also loved moderating the US Investor panel last year. Therefore, how could I say no to getting involved as a curator and helping to pick these top speakers?!
Also, I think this is a really innovative conference model, whereby the community can select people they want to see on stage and hear speak. I have “curated” my own conferences for Girls in Tech and Failcon, but never anything of this magnitude. 
I would have happily contributed to any of the topics but I think ecommerce is very interesting; it may sound a bit “classic”, but the area has seen tonnes of great innovation, which is what I’m hoping to show through some of the speakers we’ve selected. 
> “Ecommerce” may seem like an old-fashioned term to some these days. What’s particularly new about it today?
Ha! I think it was Ron Conway from SV Angel that said about a year ago that while we may think we’ve reached the peak of innovation online, we haven’t even scraped the surface. The same goes for ecommerce.
I’m obviously not as much of an expert as the high profile speakers we’ll have from Showroomprivé, Farfetch, Zady and Stella & Dot, but I can say that there are tonnes of new experiences and business models that didn’t exist before. Ecommerce has seen various trends whether it be private sales, social, curated, subscription-based, geolocalisation and more. Business models have changed. Product discovery has changed. Even on the logistics side we’re seeing changes. And technology is also playing a role with 3D printing, artificial intelligence experiences and more.
> Which ecommerce platforms are you excited about right now, and why? (apart from those of your speakers)
There are far too many :) There are 2 great ecommerce-related startups amongst the startup finalists: (who was also the finalist from the Girls in Tech Lady Pitch Night) and Fitle (I just love this idea: you try clothes on with your own customised avatar). I also think a lot of the startups that Forerunner Ventures has invested in (as they are a fund that specialises in ecommerce) are very interesting.
> What, in your opinion, sets each of your speakers apart as referential ecommerce platforms?
I’m very excited about having’s Soraya Darabi! I’ve been wanting to get her to Paris for ages. She has a terrific background and I think what she is doing at Zady with ethical commerce is totally unique.
Then we have Kathleen Mitchell who is VP EMEA of Stella & Dot. I find their model really interesting because they are mixing a much more classical commerce approach with that of the online world.
Thierry Petit of Showroomprivé has actually been very under the radar. We haven’t seen him at a lot of conferences but he has built an ecommerce empire with Showroomprive, which runs neck and neck with (French ecommerce pioneer) Vente Privée. I also think it’s a great time to talk about private sales models, as Vente Privée has just pulled out of the US market.
Finally, we have David Lindsay who is SVP of technology at Farfetch, one of Europe’s leading ecommerce companies (and he was previously at Net-a-porter, can’t really top that). Dave will be bringing his insight in terms of what technologies are really changing the space.
And we’ll have more speakers for ecommerce announced shortly. 
> Where do you see ecommerce in the next 2-3 years?
It’s hard to say, but I think we’ll start to see a lot more 3D and artificial intelligence integrated. I’m thinking social will continue to grow. I’m wondering if the subscription-based models will peak or if they will continue to grow. And I’m sure we’ll see a lot of innovations I can’t even think of :)
Find out more about LeWeb’14’s Ecommerce trend here!