The extraordinary success of Amazon, the largest virtual store in the world, and its cheaper cousin who sells books (half.com) only take the online marketplace to a point. What‚Äôs missing is a place where there‚Äôs no incentive to make money, only to share. Enter stage left (as in socialism?) a sort of craigslist free section for books and cds: swapacd.com and PaperbackSwap. Holy crap. I‚Äôm certain these will take off and go wild. The sender pays postage, and you get credits for each book you add to the catalog. Sending also gives you credits. With millions of paperbackers on the service, the party will begin. Because hey‚Ä¶ most people don‚Äôt want to post their paperbacks on half.com whose average price is 1 dollar. People get a much nicer feeling in their souls from sharing and caring.
Of course, strategies for incorporating this gameplan into other marketplaces will likely be started. At least for me, it’s exciting.
Spending most of my time in either New York or Los Angeles, I’ve come to respect the power of the densely packed urban environment: without dumpster diving, one can easily capitalize on the endless piles of other people trash, searchable in the free or garage sale sections of many websites.
Steps in the right direction
Taking the ‘please take what I consider trash’ element to the next level would require a lot of meta-data. If each household could scan the barcode of what they wanted to give away (which would post to a site like paperbackswap or cdswap) and then wait for a request from the net, all these products we assign value to in stores become almost meaningless. Just wait for buyers to upgrade and scan their scraps… If I had a couple million dollars, I would make a massive ‚ÄòSwap‚Äô site that brought all the swap sites together. Soon Amazon will buy me up, and I can retire in peace. But I‚Äôm sure this is in the works.
In Store (physical) Internet Price Checking
The internet has already changed buying and selling in important ways. For me, I’m already certain that something I buy in the store (except produce/food) is cheaper online. It’s a matter of searching amazon or froogle.com, or any number of aggregated shopping sites when I return to the internet. Bringing the certainty of cheaper online prices to the store has been accomplished by Frucall.com, a service that informs the user (by mobile phone) of the lowest found price across the internet for any product with a barcode. It also allows you to purchase the product over the phone while you’re looking at the spatula in bed bath or beyond or wherever normal people go these days.
So essentially, when Google works out this whole ubiquitous wireless coverage, and the internet marketplace goes through a couple revolutions, clever folks like those who read this blog will be able to relax with the google phone and wait for their free spatulas in the mail.