Most small local businesses are still trying to figure out how their online presence works. However, the customers have already transitioned to a mobile platform to perform their purchases. While that online store might “work” on a mobile device, chances are it won’t work well. Which begs the question, since m-commerce grows 50% annually, are you ready for your customers to adopt that trend?
More importantly, is there a hope for a free market in the digital economy that is now coming of age?
Physical Economy & Free Market Rules
The physical economy always has, and continues to be, governed by rules. Free markets aren’t driven by impersonal market forces or an invisible hand. It has always been that way, and it probably always will be.
If there is one thing the pandemic has demonstrated, it is that we are headed into uncharted economic territory in regard to online sales and away from a physical economy. What had been predicted in 2018 missed the mark by 25%. It was assumed that online retail sales would make up 12% of the total retail sales. We’re currently at 16% and we haven’t even started the biggest retail sales season of the year.
Meanwhile, during this unprecedented time, the physical economy has changed drastically. Movie theaters, car/real-estate sales, corporate office space, brick-and-mortar retail are all experiencing a deep transition. Many storefronts haven’t been able to be open for a good portion of the year and others have had to shut down completely. While Forbes says 31% of physical local businesses have closed in 2020, Amazon reports its largest 2nd quarter earnings ever.
Digital Economy & Free Market Rules
The digital economy came as a result of the invention of the world wide web. Twenty-five years ago when I finished college I didn’t even use email. Now the vast majority of my economic activity happens in this online world. These new digital realities have heavily influenced the marketplace. As business pioneers joined this digital “gold rush”, they set out to explore, claim, and settle these new landscapes. This has created both its fair share of grand opportunities and grave threats.
The digital landscape is its own entity in a very real sense. Like the physical economy, it too has a “free” market which naturally is governed and regulated. Like every marketplace, it is highly engineered with hundreds of thousands of rules – rules most often created behind closed doors by specific people who will benefit from every piece of code they create. It has its own politics – those who regulate and govern how it operates.
Those who are in the game of big business have realized the nature of this new political reality and invested heavily in this unique form of lobbying. Just like tax code, court rulings, executive orders, or even bills and laws, regulate the physical “free market”, the digital marketplace has its need for its own rules. Therefore, big business has found it important to ensure that those who set and govern those rules have a similar idealogy or can be swayed to a more favorable position that supports their agenda.
Creating A New Economic Politic
But not all changes have to be of a “top-down” type politic – where those with enough money engage in the traditional lobbying of these digital leaders for the freedoms or constraints they want. There are changes that can be engineered from the ground up through private enterprises that serve a broader common good in the marketplace. More importantly, these changes can/should be invested in by the general public, as a pledge of their support of that future added value and its freedoms and constraints that it will afford.
This has been the strategy employed by the Virtual Storefronts campaign. We are lobbying for you to join us in the development of this digital economy that favors local businesses. We are engineering an app that creates freedoms for local patrons and business owners that don’t currently exist. This is truly a political move that will change how the digital “free market” economy game can be played allowing all small local business owners a slice of the pie. It will no longer be solely dominated by multinational corporations who have little to no desire to invest locally.
There is a real need to fight for the local economy because fewer and fewer people are doing so.
VS Is A New M-Commerce Option
At Virtual Storefronts, we believe that this is an idea that resonates with the American ideal. We want to see a diverse and robust local economy where people have the freedom to virtually shop at the local businesses they love with the same ease and convenience they now have with companies like Amazon. However, if we allow the current trends in this marketplace to continue, we are heavily leaning towards a monopoly by a few and a digital landslide of immorality in “free market” economics.
At Virtual Storefronts, we are in the game to ensure that local businesses have the tools necessary to conduct their business virtually in a way that not only gives them a place at the table, but the place of honor. They deserve this place because they represent what creates and maintains local wealth.
Why A VS Type Tool Is Critical To M-Commerce
No local business has the funds to create the technology required to compete with Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Amazon. We’re raising $250,000 to build enterprise technology that gives local businesses the opportunity to compete in the curbside and virtual shopping markets.
Even walk-in business is going virtual. If we do not build this technology, these rapidly emerging markets will be dominated entirely by national big box retailers and Amazon, further decimating local business revenue.
Virtual Storefronts provide a Search Directory for a savvy demographic of high-value “Shop Local” fans that connects exclusively to locally-owned businesses, giving local merchants the unfair advantage they need to compete with multinationals in the digital future. All multinational chains are excluded from the platform.
Virtual Storefronts are a simple inclusive tool designed for broad adoption by non-technical merchants and their customers that opens up cash flow for businesses whose top priorities are customer service and sales, giving local merchants access to the growing market of customers who will never set foot in a store.
Your contribution to our IndieGoGo campaign will help us raise the $250,000 in capital to build this app that gives every local business nationwide an equal opportunity to enter this digital landscape and serve their patrons well.
Sources of inspiration for this piece come from the following three articles. This is in no way an endorsement of those articles or their tenets. It is simply an acknowledgment of their influence on this piece and how it applies to Virtual Storefronts.
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/ greatspeculations/2020/08/12/the physical-economy-is-done/
- https://www.fastcompany.com/ 3061910/13-ways-we-can-fix-the-free market-so-it-works-for-regular-people-not just-the-rich