11 Big Ideas to Watch in 2011

Yoko Furusho
1 of 11

1. Rethinking Retail

Online retailers have always competed by offering convenience and low prices, but they've lately began to master the art of getting people to buy things they don't yet know they want. These new start-ups—like Gilt Group, LivingSocial, and Groupon—send locally targeted e-mails (hello, Shreveport, Louisiana!), give huge discounts (50 percent off is the norm), and make customers pull the trigger quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes. It's about making shopping feel too good to be true. And if Groupon's latest sale offer is any indication, it's a highly lucrative—if a bit saturated—field.