Dissolution of the Shop

The original commercialized blogger was a shopkeeper. They had to choose what to carry, and they had a lot at stake when they made their choice. They might get the word out with a cardboard tweet on asile 2, or via coupon spam in the local newspaper. They quite literally worked on commission — or at least on the markup they took over the wholesale price.

Now, the functions of the shop are being redistributed. Online brand advocates manage local marketing. Local may mean geography, but it may also mean the circle of their associates, where ever they are. Even more directly, local means the mobile device in your pocket. Others deal with sales; still others, possibly, with warehousing and shipping. Product service could be dealt with separately again.

The irony is that the same person who is incensed by product recommendations creeping into the online dialog may very well be someone who bemoans the march of retail giants at the expense of neighborhood stores. And yet the fabled relationship with a shop keeper was much more conscribed by commercial dictates of the shop than that with an online blogger: on the one hand shops can sell only what shopkeepers can stock. On the other, a commercial blogger can be purely commercial, but has much less other sympathy they can trade on, and much more competition. So if they are recommending, and want to establish a relationship at all, they better do a good job at recommending.

All of the components of the new retail structure are familiar, actually. But how are they going to be knit together in the new configuration, and by whom? Are we going to float down toward the new retail sea wafted by the gentle currents of Amazon? Or is it finally going to meander into the swamps, like AOL, with the glue provided by savvy startups like Zappli?

(I’m an investor in Zappli, btw…. )

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