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Retailing has always been the exchange of goods for money. However the social web, the semantic web and the internet of things is opening up new possibilities as to how this exchange can be made. Barter, new currencies and new economies will create new forms of exchange
Cash. Check. Finance. Credit. Micro-payments. Mobile Payments. Where next? Surely there can't be many more variations on how a Customer is able to pay for their purchases.
Now if we examine current trends online, not necessarily in e-commerce and look at what gets exchanged in a transaction, what emerges is not so much new forms of payment, but new forms of currency.
Credit Card loyalty schemes and site loyalty schemes offering air-miles, loyalty points and other incentives are all offering an alternative currency in return for either purchase volume or data.
Social Gaming where players earn points or purchase points for real money. Let's say that Zynga is currently making $250M in revenues from customers purchasing game currency with real money. In 2009 there was an economy worth $567M in Linden Lab's SecondLife. These virtual currencies have real value and can be exchanged for money and goods. According to a post on VentureBeat 126 million hours were spent last quarter and USD$50M changes hands each month - which equates to about 2 cents per minute as the value of participating in SecondLife.
There are online economies in operation that are working largely unregulated and without borders with rates for peoples time and effort set by the laws of supply and demand. In time these markets will come to bear on how people shop.
Forecast Emergence in Mainstream: 2014 - The technology for this is available today, but consumer and retailer paradigms are the barrier to adoption. These will come from left field and retailers will need to adopt quickly or lose sales.
The last twenty years has seen ever more production moving offshore. The increase in shipping traffic bringing manufactured goods from developing to developed nations has grown, even through the recent recession there was only a slight dip with current predictions signaling recovery. However retailers looking for growth outside of stagnating domestic markets are building a presence in developing economies, many of which are the source of much of their inventory. For a retailer whose country home base is neither the source of supply nor the source of demand what will be the new operational model?
Next post in this series of five: Data Analytics - from Big to Huge to Streaming
Previous post in this series of five: Global Markets - When Supply and Demand Move Offshore
Main post of the series: Retail Trends - Main
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