Retail Democratization: online is a game changer

As I stated in the end of the post, Retail shopping; does it really help local economies? more to follow.

Initially, the focus of this post is what drove me to write on the subject, but the first post was also required. Retail is not driven by humanist motivators at a community level, but entirely by selfish goals for self preservation within an aggressive marketplace and fickle consumers, with hungry CEO’s and shareholders to appease.

What really interests me is this entity, the “online” which clearly is the spanner thrown into the works of business-as-usual.

The newer industries of fortune of the twentieth century are all at odds with this new player. Retail, as I will focus on, but also media and the arts in the form of visual and audio are hit heavily by online. In such cases, we find a centralisation other wealth creation to a minority of individuals and companies which are then able to further sway and manipulate the distribution of money.

A given company that owns two “competing” products on the supermarket shelf is one example, but with movies, for instance, it is a vicious cycle that the wealthiest companies attract the best artists and can charge a premium…

The online environment, however, undermines this entirely. People can share and even create their own media and products and often, such as with some freeware computer programs, enthusiasts can compete in the quality of output to some very expensive licensed products.

Some online media prove that quality of entertainment is not related to the budget behind the project, but instead the imagination of the creator. Music, on the other hand, is finding a new level of centralisation online where they are cheated out of revenue when their work is popular.

Even considering online music, all of this leads to power of choice being returned to those whom make use of these goods and services. In other words, the internet is democratizing various industries which have long enjoyed a privileged position.

For this reason, I am very concerned about the Coalition’s watered down NBN. This is arguably an attempt to hobble media choice, preserving the status quo and premiums for pay TV, for instance.

Equally, the noise within the retail industry about online shopping sounds like little more than panic from a dying world model. The aging profit giants are slow on this front and inept at adapting to this new democratic platform, without complaining about staff wages (ignoring the pay ratio from the top to bottom, of course). The retail industry is at odds with democracy, which is increasingly obvious.

Coupled with community wealth extraction (compared to low staff wages), how can we feel bad for avoiding the premiums of hungry shareholders and expensive CEO’s, paying less so we can reduce local debt and keep more money local?

Shop online or shop local from farmer’s markets or small, family business, this season if you are driven by interest in local economy and giving something extra special to you friends and family.


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