Imagine a world in which Donnie and Marie Osmond and 50 Cent are sharing retail square footage.
Imagine a retail company whose annual report is an info graphic that includes as much information on its employees' eating habits as its financial metrics.
Picture another company that is not even in the retail business but now has its users monitored as a major retail customer statistic.
How about a venture where two glamorous women want you to be able to wear the same dresses as Oscar nominees? Or a retail empire that has sold 100 million products, mostly made with a crafter's tool kit?
(Read More: Disseminating Disruption in the Media)
The reality is that you don't have to imagine any of this. The design of a new retail sector paradigm is underway and is reflected in the stories of the five retail companies on CNBC's inaugural Disruptor 50 list: Etsy, Pinterest, Rent the Runway, Shopify, and Warby Parker. These are the five companies behind the quirky factoids, but we found that they have much in common in the way they are going about disrupting the status quo in retail business.
Communities are being built on the Internet. Sharing is becoming as important to retail success as it is to the basic nature of communication between friend, family, and colleague in the age of social media. Retail is invoking the rhetoric of democratization, doing away with the high barriers to entry of the legacy bricks-and-mortar world and even at the luxury end of the marketplace, specifically.