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Who Wins the (Online) Corner Store?

A big question about the future of commerce is how local businesses will succeed online.

Today I want to talk about one of the fascinating tussles in technology: trying to turn the shop around the corner into an online store.

What’s happening spotlights a big question about the future of commerce: Will one-stop specialists like Amazon dominate everything, or will the internet empower anyone to open a successful store?

To over simplify, there are essentially two paths for businesses that want to sell stuff online or just have an internet presence. They can either do it themselves, or link up with an online powerhouse. Both come with downsides.

That cheese shop or a local toy store can set up its own website, but then it has to hope that it gets noticed. It can also be annoying to manage a website and maybe handle online orders, too.

To varying degrees, these companies all try to bridge the do-it-yourself approach for online businesses with the benefits of linking up with vast internet malls like Amazon.

For a monthly fee and a relatively small commission on sales, businesses can use Shopify to set up a website and app, display images of their products, connect to their inventory systems and handle online payments.

Unlike many of the other tech companies that want to bring stores online, Shopify promises to give businesses a way to reach shoppers everywhere, including on Facebook, and their own websites. Businesses can also ship products from a Shopify network of warehouses, like what Amazon offers merchants.

Something strange is happening in Australia. There’s a proposed new law there that would require big internet properties — basically, Google and Facebook — to directly pay news organizations for linking to their news.

Like their counterparts in many other countries, Australian media companies have complained for years that they weren’t being fairly compensated for the value their information provides to internet giants. But Australia is (so far) one of the few countries where the news media had the power and connections to make it happen.

Category: Technology

Source: New York Times

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