CAN THERE BE FAIRNESS IN E-COMMERCE?
Unlike a race to the bottom, Fair Play is not a Catch 22 for consumers
Years ago, developed countries in the West entered a race to the bottom that made us feel good about cheap goods. After all, this is what we could afford on stagnant or reduced incomes, after the better jobs were sent away so that we could buy things for less. Newly impoverished communities forced many small businesses within them to shut down, which had ripple effects across the world.
Many who saw eCommerce on established platforms as an opportunity to make loads of money did so for a while, and some still do. Unfortunately, success drives abuse.
Online platforms (aka AMAZON) increased their fees, arbitrarily changed their policies and even copied what their users were selling. Amazon sold those goods at lower prices than the merchants’ cost and also allowed many sellers from China to sell goods so cheap that everything else became undesirable. The loss in quality drove shoppers to seek the lowest price and maximum perks in every purchase, even if it meant laying themselves off in the long run.
Advertising Violated the Right to Privacy.
Online advertising became intrusive, and the backlash to corporate monitoring has been felt through increased privacy controls, and dismal targeting by advertising platforms, which make advertising very expensive for small businesses. Meta platforms are the worst offenders when it comes to privacy violations and poor targeting, but one shouldn’t trust the others either. It would simply be foolish to do so.
1. What’s your definition of Fairness?
- Kindness is not weakness
- Being honest
- Not taking advantage of other people’s shortcomings
2. How would you apply Fairness to eCommerce?
- Encouraging shoppers and vendors to create good deals together
- Featuring vendors that cannot destroy each others’ livelihoods through unfair price wars
3. Are you an innovator in your work or do you play it safe by following proven methods?
I am comfortable with some experimentation and some safety. Not everything needs to be overly exciting, as long as it’s quick and painless.
4. Quid Pro Quo?
Let’s encourage vendors to share their storefronts with their networks, and improve this community with input from users. We can do this with fewer fees, better customer service and also by blocking knock-offs.
5. Should vendors reward those who bring them sales?
Yes, because content equals entertainment, and people tend to shop where they feel welcome and entertained.
6. Do you know any online sellers who have been hurt by high fees or arbitrary decisions by online marketplaces?
Not personally, but the news feature many horror stories on a regular basis. The most common ones are about unfair competition by the marketplace, exorbitant fees and arbitrary account terminations.
7 How does someone get involved in an online marketplace as a good community member?
Be honest, polite and diligent. Get involved in the development of the platform so that you can make the most of it.
8 Have you ever haggled…why or why not?
Yes, I haggle every time I feel special or because I am a bit short. It works out more often that you think, as long as you are not a Karen.
9 How can users of a marketplace band together to protect themselves from online Karens?
After making sure that the person in front of us is a Karen, and not a person with legitimate grievances, we can hashtag them on social media to warn other members of the presence of a Karen, and tell those members how the #HaggleThis community has so far dealt with the nuisance. We should probably ask for cooperation, too.
10. What kind of products would you like to shop for in this customer-driven marketplace?
Examples: clothing, furniture, NFTs.
I would buy anything if I can negotiate directly with independent creators with the freedom to be themselves. All product and delivery claims must be subject to buyer protection, of course.
HAGGLING: removing what’s irrelevant before agreeing on a price
I’m aloof, contrarian and stingy. I also like to give squirrels names that begin with “S”.