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Think Outside The Box


Posted At: 24 July 2009 14:41 PM
Related Categories: E-tailing, Future of Retailing


The Internet is beautiful. It’s most definitely the best thing since sliced bread, and it’s probably the most important creation in the history of time (apart from, like, electricity, but I’m not really sure if you actually “create” electric so…) - and I think that if it were a Harry Potter film, it would be The Goblet of Fire. Stick with me here.

Like the Goblet itself, ‘the Internet’ accepts all people over a certain age (cough cough) and, if they’re lucky, they get chosen to be catapulted towards wealth and stardom. How else can you become rich, famous and speak to a million people without even leaving your home? Also, I’m pretty sure that [, Inc founder] Jeff Bezos felt exactly like Viktor Krum throwing his name into the Goblet when he published the first incarnation of the now multi-million pound company’s website; he wasn’t sure if he would make it, and certainly wasn’t aware of what would happen if he did. He did. And unlike Krum, he went right the way to the top of the pile with Amazon, who now holds 4.84% of the UK e-commerce market, according to

The term ‘market share’ in relation to the Internet doesn’t really reconcile with me to be honest. Being naïve and I suppose wishful, I like to think of the ‘net as a place where anything goes – where people are equal and where everyone has a chance to play...and those things in turn cannot exist in places where you can have such a thing as market share.

‘Market share’ jargon is for big industries – construction, real estate, manufacturing; industries that don’t exist in the online world, industries that are left well and truly to the big boys in the real world that the Internet lets us escape from. Unfortunately, some of these big boys are not as stupid as they look, for retail has infiltrated utopia.

Probably the biggest business in the world, retailing storms ahead of most when it comes to innovation. Think back to the old days of the cash-only, manual tills – then flash forward to today, only a few years, when contactless payment systems are almost a reality. It’s immense, and the possibilities have most certainly not been exhausted. Aside from the newer emerging m-tailing (retailing through mobile phones), e-tailing is fast becoming the saviour of the sector.

In the UK, eBay has approximately 22.31% of the retailing market share as at 27th June 09. That’s over 18% more than its closes rival, the aforementioned Amazon. What this means is that the power gathered and exerted by this giant player will almost certainly stifle any competitor that may like a slice of the pie for themselves - and that, in my book, makes them a monopoly.

According to the always reliable Wikipedia, the lowest…market share of a firm considered "dominant" in the Ebay is only a few steps away from a figure like that, and what will happen if they get that big, that clever? Who will be there to object? At the moment, no one. There are – as far as I know – no regulating bodies for competition law on the Internet, and I don’t expect there will be until it is perhaps too late.

Let face it, people are sheep – they (we!) will go where everyone else goes, do what everyone else does. Fuelling the fire like this is only encouraging the limitation of choice – the thing that made the Internet so very, very fabulous.

I fear the online retailing market will essentially become as stifled and as boring as the current offering on high streets across the UK; we broke those by being biased, lets not do the same the second time around. Think. Outside. The box.

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The opinions expressed herein are the personal opinion of the author and are not intended as statements of fact and do not represent the view of SnapShop or Pragma in any way.


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