Discussion is sorely lacking on the topic of the role of retailing in the era of online.
Traditionally, retailers played the middleman. The best retailers saw it as part of their task to trim the flood of possible offers into an optimal selection of goods which would then be presented in an appealing way to the customer.
In the online world, there is often not much of this still happening. People are now expecting that retailers have everything available that the market can bear – and they can be taken quite aback when a retailer decides not to carry particular products.
It is up for debate if it makes sense for Apple to refuse to sell eBooks with links to Amazon in them.
But can you lay the blame on retailers if they don’t want to carry particular products, either for a limited time only or not at all? Is this not exactly the value-add from retailers, that they have the task of shortlisting a selection of products for us?
Exciting Commerce believes in the traditional model where merchants are at their best when they take their role between manufacturer and customer and offer us the right product at the right time.
That’s why one focus of Exciting Commerce is on QVC, Vente-Privée, Woot!, Groupon and other such business models which handle this task better than others.
A more general question: Is online retailing more a filter or more an aggregator? And if the retailers are not handling the important filter function, then who is?
Interesting discussion on this question in the comments of our German blog (auto-translated link).
Originally posted in German by Jochen Krisch, adapted for excitingcommerce.com by Jason Soo.