500 Startups has always been bullish about online commerce, despite economic fluctuations. The future of commerce is not in traditional brick & mortar stores, but in the innovative online plays from companies like Bonobos, BrainTree and Zappos Labs. We've asked leaders from these companies, who also happen to be speakers at our upcoming COMMERCISM conference, to share their thoughts on what they’ve learned as early-stage founders/leaders + the future of commerce.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you've learned since founding your startup or starting your career in the eCommerce space?


A. There is nothing wrong with building a $1, $10 or $100 million e-commerce company.  You should be proud of that, pay you and your team very well, treat your customers right, etc.  But if you are a $100 million company, do not raise money like a $1 billion company.   You’ll lose your job and soul.

— WILL YOUNG, Director, Zappos Labs

Q. Who else in the industry should be on our watch list, in terms of innovation & growth?


A. Five companies to watch: Pinrose, Tuft & Needle, Tictail, Spree Commerce, and Delighted.

—ANDY DUNN, Co-Founder & CEO, Bonobos

Q.  What is the the future of eCommerce & why?


A. The future of eCommerce is context driven.  We all know consumers are moving to mobile as primary computing devices - the data is overwhelming. However, there's also a quiet, but more profound shift to context-driven experiences. As it becomes more difficult to do data entry on devices, consumers are beginning to expect apps to know enough about them to serve them well without having to do data entry. This goes way beyond geo-location and past choices to interests, preferences and desires. Five years from now, we'll just expect all of our apps to know what we want without us having to tell them.

— BILL READY, CEO, Braintree

Want more e-commerce insights? Check out COMMERCISM Comrade Q&A post #1 with Wanelo CEO Deena Varshavskaya and post #2 with Shopify's Chief Platform Officer, Harley Finkelstein.

Who else is leading the charge at COMMERCISM? Check out our complete speaker lineup, and join the revolution on 3-21-2014. Can't make the conference? Be sure to tune into the Livestream here at 500.co.