Why moving away from the big e-retailers could well be good for you and the future of the internet
The emergence of e-commerce has proven to be the route to safety for some major retailers and the ruin of others as witnessed by the wholesale destruction of the main & high streets and shopping malls & centers of North America and the UK. It has also led to the creation and growth of some significant regional players, such as MercadoLibre in LATAM, Jumia in west Africa and Souk in the Middle East.
This in turn has led to some predatory acquisitions by the big boys in the arena such as Amazon's purchase of the aforementioned Souk and Walmart's swallowing of Flipkart in India. Alibaba in the PRC and beyond as well as Sea through their Shopee division and Ozon in Russia have also all shown an appetite for collaboration and expansion within their home and neighboring markets.
Regardless of the eventual owner, the simple truths remain that these operations and companies are out to maximize profitability by seldom handling or stocking merchandise themselves, using (and potentially abusing) your data, building and expanding their markets in parallel (and unison) with banks, lenders & credit-card issuers and by extracting the most they can in fees and add-ons at every opportunity in the supply chain.
I've been a decentralized e-commerce enthusiast for a couple of years now, and whenever I talk to a friend or associate about it they usually ask me something along the lines of "Why would you need this when you already have Amazon, e-Bay, Alibaba or some other nebulous tech driven retail giant to buy from?"
Well, since I have answered this and similar questions multiple times, I think it's about time I put my answers down on paper and maybe just use it as a script from now on.
Firstly, it seems worthwhile to point out that, from a consumer perspective, when it comes down to choices in a market, the more the merrier. No consumer will ever benefit from one mega corp dominating the retail landscape, so any and all competition/choice should be seen as positive. As long as the competition provides quality in service and selection, differentiation in its UX and market appropriate pricing it will value add for a consumer (even if they never use it).
Having established this, what and where are the alternatives?
One shining example (as in shiny new) is the Particl Open Marketplace which becomes even more interesting because of the unique features it brings with it over and above being another e-commerce platform. Now, at this point, I could start to go on about all the technological innovations within the blockchain technology of Particl, but this has all been extensively covered by others with way more technical knowledge than me, and to be fair, most of it is pretty boring!.
However, what all this innovation does means for us is: lower on-costs for sellers, lower prices for buyers, a safer and more secure online retail environment and easier facilitation of cross-border trade without many of the usual barriers and bureaucratic walls that surround and divide us.
Particl and its Marketplace (and a lot of these points will be common to any or all other decentralized e-commerce sites that exists or are under development) has no company behind it. It does have a development team and a Foundation, but their purpose is to bring it into existence and maintain its operational health (code-wise). All decisions inside the entity will be decided by the community through votes, and to vote you only need to own Parts the native token of Particl. Eventually, even upgrades and changes to the code will have to be accepted by the community before they are introduced.
I've ended up going off at a tangent to explain the community vote feature, but the point I wanted to make was that, without a company looking for a profit behind the Marketplace, the cost for sellers to enter are lower as there are no monthly fees and/or sales percentages being taken from them. When costs are lower for sellers they are able to offer more competitive prices, which in itself, will bring more consumers to the platform.
So lower costs for sellers should mean more competitive prices for buyers and within the Particl Marketplace or similar there is another aspect that will reduce overall costs even further......the possibility/option of operating without going through banks or using credit cards or other payment services (e.g. PayPal). When you buy directly with Particl or any other cryptocurrency (and there will be many other cryptocurrencies added to and accepted by the Marketplace) you are effectively cutting banks and their payment processors out of the equation. Their fees may seem minimal at first, but they soon mount up and at the end of the day, and let's be honest here, who doesn't enjoy giving banks the finger?
Furthermore, the possibilities for e-commerce being conducted via a crypto-agnostic coin, such as Particl's Part, whereby any and all cryptocurrencies can be accepted and utilized through the almost mythical 'Atomic swaps', the instantaneous exchange in any pairing plus the ability to even input FIAT, are just too fabulous to contemplate....word is they are coming to an e-store near you sooner rather than later.
There are several more innovations being brought forward in this area with many focused on enhanced privacy, protecting your identity and your data. It may not seem like such a big deal, the inappropriate use of your data, but isn't it better if you don't have to worry when you hand over all your personal information to a platform? It might not have happened to you, but we all have that friend who had their identity stolen, their credit card charged with mysterious purchases, and so on. Even if this isn't a decisive factor for you, it is a plus nonetheless.
The internet is such a great place to sell and buy things but we are still bound by the governments that surrounds us, some more so than others. And even if you want to sell online, some countries have a very hard time making deals with large corporations with global reach because they are still legal entities bound somewhere by the regulations and restrictions of that place.
As previously stated, the sole purpose of the Particl Foundation and the developers is to bring the currency to life and maintain the healthiness of its code. Since they won't have control over it once community voting is activated, they won't have an ownership relationship with the Marketplace and, therefore, can't be held responsible for what happens there nor even have the power to shut it down.
Even if any government or company goes after them, and even if they did manage to dissolve the Foundation, nothing can be done about the Marketplace, because it is its own digitally living and breathing beast. Since the Marketplace is out of reach, it has the freedom to connect people from anywhere with an internet connection without worrying about restrictions, embargoes, legalities, tariffs and all the red tape that still exists to segregate us.
And those who wave the red herring about cryptos & crimes need only have it explained to them that all goods & services advertised on open market places with a foundation governance can vote for the removal of anything deemed inappropriate, illicit or illegal, self regulation at grassroots level, how cool is that?
So lower costs for sellers, more competitive prices, no dependence on banks, a secure platform, virtual anonymity and slicing through walls of bureaucracy are the main reasons I believe Particl and decentralized e-commerce sites will become increasingly relevant to us all, the average everyday users, and could well become the new standard. I once read that a market is disrupted when something reaches a point where it is 10x cheaper than the previous technology. Well, I believe that Particl can make its marketplace 10x cheaper than the conventional competition (Amazon, e-Bay etc etc) when it comes to costs for all users!
These are the reasons why I am so excited about the Particl Marketplace finally being released and am convinced that this is just the beginning as other flock to imitate and compete....August 12th 2019......'e-commerce liberation day!'.