A quick lesson about online platforms
Remember the time when you booked a flight on anÂ airline by calling their toll-freeÂ number or logging onto their website? Hmm, don’t recall such a time? That’s because most travelers today head to Kayak, Hipmunk, Vayamundo, Flights.com or Google Flights to search for the best routes and prices from all available airlines.
Remember when you called the Marriott Hotel to book a few nightsÂ for a trip? Or, ratherâ¦ when you loggedÂ onto Kayak, Hotels.com, Expedia, HomeAway or AirBnB to browse all the offerings, check prices and amenities, and then you booked through them.
You actually used a few of the internet’s most popular “platforms“. The digital ageÂ has spawnedÂ the riseÂ of online software platforms, where marketplaces and transactions occur online, at largeÂ scales.
Our “old” global economyÂ once was dominated by distributors, and the internet was seen as a wayÂ to shift away from aggregators toÂ direct seller and buyer relationships. The hope was that the removalÂ of intermediaries between consumers and producers would allow smaller companies to flourish. But as before, intermediaries (middlemen, in earlierÂ vernacular) have built powerful online platforms which, while useful for consumers at first, ultimately can lead to complete dominationÂ of their markets, leading toÂ monopolies where the middlemen (and their investors) scrape nearly all theÂ available profit and attention inÂ the marketplace. (e.g. Craigslist decimatedÂ newspaper advertising with its free classifieds; Facebook threatensÂ investigative journalism with its “news” feed; Amazon put most booksellers and some retailers out of business and beat Ebay; Google did it to publishers, Uber is doing it to Taxis, et al.)
Yes, these platforms can reduce friction, increase sales volumes, and generate happier customers with better shopping experiences… until, as they grow, theÂ aggregators stop helping customers and actually start hurting each sideâ¦
How? By de-emphasizing the providers/sellers (you!)Â and making you just a commodity among countless other sellers. Their playbook includesÂ selling preferential placement in their online marketplace, and eventually controlling Â all theÂ communications and commerceÂ between you and your customers (i.e. obscuring customer contact info and taking a cut of every purchase). And if you’re aÂ buyer or merchant in B2B, these new platforms tryÂ to control the relationship between you and your suppliers/growers as well.
If you’re a “worker” in the new gig economy, the euphemism is “the sharing economy” where the platform (think Uber, Lyft, AirBnB etc.) sets the terms of engagement for workers and the buyers. These platforms earn billions of dollars by scraping every transaction betweenÂ every participant, and they force prices down to commodity levels.
So…. what can be done about this?
We here at Make/Grow Local refuse to allowÂ another important, growing marketplaceâperhaps the most important market concerning sustainableÂ food production and artisanal, independent livelihoodsâ to be “disrupted” by even more closed, proprietaryÂ systems.
Thus, we are pleased to offer you the Make/Grow Local community marketplace, which:
- takes no cut of your sales and has no fees;
- connects each party (buyers and sellers) directly and transparently to each other;
- offers (424) 757-7024Â to you for free;
- directly supportsÂ the local maker movement;
- pledges to keep innovating and providing solutions to ease logistics and growth;
- is an open platform, to encourage an ecosystem of 3rd-party solutions to solve growth and infrastructure problemsÂ that delivering local food/goods at scale requires.
in the hopes of encouraging the acceleration of a mutually-beneficial, frictionless, healthy ecosystem of innovative makers and growers, and the merchants and sellers thoughtful enough to source them.
Please 562-733-1147 as we build out the only local-focused marketplace run by and for makers and growersâand the buyers who care enough to source local.