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Today I’d like to talk about one of the intriguing troubles in technology: trying to turn the shop around into an online store.
Almost every business, from Walmart to a home bakery facility, wants to find customers and sell their products online, and this only accelerates during a pandemic. But it’s hard. A cheese store owner doesn’t have the time, expertise, and money to become as proficient in online shopping as Amazon does.
What’s going on raises a big question about the future of commerce: Will one-stop professionals like Amazon dominate everything, or will the internet empower anyone to open a successful store?
For simplicity, there are basically two ways for businesses that want to sell online or just have the presence of the internet. They can make their own or associate with an online company. Both have drawbacks.
That local cheese shop or toy store could set up its own website, but then they had to hope that it got noticed. Managing a website and being able to process online orders can also be frustrating.
Or cheese shops that can be sold online at grocery markets like Goldbelly and toy stores that can sell through Amazon – which already has a lot of potential customers – and those sites catalog inventory and handle payments and shipping. The downside is that merchants often give up a large portion of sales, control, and customer loyalty to those sites.
Enter a million technology companies that promise to help. Facebook and its Instagram and WhatsApp apps advertise themselves as a way for stores or home businesses to easily grow digitally and reach a large audience without losing their independence. Google, Square, Reliance Jio in India and WeChat in China have a similar premise.
To varying degrees, all of these companies are trying to bridge the approach of doing self-made businesses online with the benefits of linking with large Internet shopping malls like Amazon.
Perhaps the most interesting of all is Shopify. Without most people realizing, its software powers the online storefronts of some 1.7 million businesses, and it has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic.
For a monthly fee and a relatively small commission on sales, businesses can use Shopify to set up websites and apps, display their product photos, and connect with us. Statistics and online payment processing.
Unlike many other tech companies that want to bring stores online, Shopify promises to give businesses a way to reach shoppers anywhere, including on Facebook, Walmart.com and websites. their own. Businesses can also ship products from Shopify’s network of warehouses, just as Amazon offers sellers.
You can see the promise. Just as Uber wants to put Amazon’s shipping rights in the hands of local businesses, Shopify wants to give stores Amazon digital skills without losing their individuality or spending a lot of money. by selling on Amazon or another online marketplace.
Is this effective? We shall see. This week, news emerged that Amazon had bought a company like Shopify, which could be a sign of Amazon. Think Shopify is doing something.
I wonder if there’s really a mid-level ground like Shopify is looking to offer – and not just in shopping. Services like Patreon and Substack promise musicians and writers an easy way to reach the world without becoming a cog in internet-connected machines like YouTube.
But the history of the Internet is that its success has largely come from companies that brought together so many people and made it easy for all of us. And that’s Amazon.
Explanation of news on Australia’s Facebook blackout
Something strange is happening in Australia. There’s a proposed new law out there that would require major internet assets – essentially Google and Facebook – to directly pay news organizations to link to their news.
In response, as my colleagues reported, Google cut a deal to pay Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, one of Australia’s dominant news organizations. Facebook said it was not going in the right direction, and on Wednesday it began blocking any links to articles. (And a lot of the news isn’t news, including government information.)
Here are a few thoughts:
Opposition to a weaker man: Google and Facebook are the last big dogs, and all the others – even Murdoch and the rest of Australia’s centralized news media industry who pushed the law forward – compare with peers of I, Sydney-based Damien Cave, write.
Like their counterparts in many other countries, Australian media companies have complained for years that they are not being equally compensated for the value their information provides to the giants. Internet. But Australia (by far) is one of the few countries in which the news media has the power and connection to make that happen.
Facebook and Google are not in the lockout step: Google considers news essential for people who are looking for information on Google websites. Facebook sees itself as a hub for people coming together – and articles are a relatively small part of global conversation.
But it’s not just about philosophy at work. Google could bet it would be cheaper and wiser to pay in Australia – and possibly elsewhere – and avoid messing with news agencies and governments. Facebook seems ready to fight. (It’s also possible that Facebook will reach a compromise and the news will return.)
A news test without Facebook: Australia is an unintentional laboratory that checks against what happens to Facebook, news organizations and the public when Facebook is a news desert.
After Google News ceased operations in Spain a few years ago because of a legal dispute, the online readership dropped for news organizations, even though it may not be a bad thing.
But here are tough questions that don’t have easy answers: Are Facebook and Google good for news organizations, or are they stalkers? Do they have an obligation to support quality news? And are people getting better informed by reading news on Facebook, or is it a mixture of good and junk that no one will lose if the news goes away?
The bottom line in many disputes with American tech superstars is the desire to fix what people believe is the damage caused by the scope and the strength of the companies. This war in Australia and the global regulatory controversy is the same version of trying to put the genie back in the jar.
Before we go …
The people behind America’s favorite online store: For The New York Times, Erika Hayasaki spoke to Amazon warehouse workers in eastern Los Angeles, who are being encouraged by the pandemic to talk about their working conditions.
Greg Bensinger, a member of the Times editorial board, wrote in a column that the dispute between Amazon and its warehouse staff is “an opportunity for consumers to weigh the manpower costs of making quick deliveries. “.
Tech giants say remote work is the future. So why are they still building so much office space? “Silicon Valley giants are growing too fast to loosen their grip on physical space – even if, in some cases, they might want to,” Wired writes.
Save money for yourself: The Washington Post writes that you don’t need a UV disinfectant for your smartphone.
Penguins at the Zoo in Syracuse, NY, There are stones for Valentine’s Day. Please don’t take the stones of your loved ones as gifts, but these penguins love the new additions to their nests.
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