The Future of Independent Ecommerce
The future is almost here.
It was just another afternoon in 2017. I was minding my business. My business in this case, was eCommerce. I sold clothing on my website and Amazon US. Most of revenue was driven by Amazon. It was a lucrative business. Until I received the wretched email.
Amazon claimed that I had violated their policy for timely deliveries and suspended my account. They provided the orders and the tracking numbers. However one look at their information revealed a different story. The tracking numbers showed that all of the shipments were delivered before Amazon's recommended window.
The stress of losing most of my revenue was devastating. However, it became worse by the Kafka-esque nightmare that was Amazon's bureaucracy. I had to present my case to Amazon's enforcement team, but I could not mention that Amazon was in the wrong, but also they could not directly tell me, only through pre-selected templates. I had to go back and forth for a whole month to appeal to the lords at Amazon, making up more elaborate schemes to solve the problem I did not cause, with solutions I could not implement because there was no problem on my end. They relented eventually. But it was wake up call.
If you are in this business, you have faced this some form. Google stopped your ad for some benign copy or eBay removing your product due to a malicious review or Facebook cutting off all your organic reach overnight. Your business is at the mercy of a tech-giant that is more powerful than any Nation State when it comes to information, and apathetic to you. As analyst and NYU professor Scott Galloway once said:
Amazon partners with a Merchant the way a Parasite partners with its host.
The Ecommerce Landscape
Right, for an independent, bootstrapped ecommerce business, there are five ways to reach customers.
Use Facebook and Google Ads.
Sell on third-party marketplace. This section is globally controlled by Amazon and Alibaba. But competitors like eBay and Walmart are stepping up their game. This also include Facebook Shops and Google Shopping.
Of these, only Email can be said to be under the merchants’ control. Even that is mostly controlled by Google(gmail) and Microsoft(Outlook). Once they classify you as spam, you have already lost. There is also the problem where mobile-first users don't use email. Not even for work, let alone for personal use. The future seems grim from small, independent merchants.
What if I told you there was a communication medium that has the same open rate as email? the same medium is also popular among the majority of the internet users in the world. That medium is Mobile Notifications. The challenge for a business however, is getting in to the user's notification section.
A well-developed Native App is faster than the mobile web, preferred by users and a great marketing users. They are also the future, in an increasingly mobile world. This is the solution to the big tech control of the ecommerce sphere.
Thank you for coming along with us on the journey. If you find this interesting, please share this with your friends