Will Peer-to-Peer E-commerce Apps Hurt Amazon & eBay?

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By Jacob Maslow

ordering online with laptopThe interesting thing about online commerce as it currently exists is that it is a very old technology. In fact, it’s as old as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). You just go to a website and buy stuff. It works on a centralized many-to-one platform. There’s a lot of advantages to this mode. First, you can get economies of scale. Also, Amazon can use its marketing heft to extract lower prices from suppliers. In very fundamental ways, Amazon’s model is simply just copying and pasting many offline product sales models and putting them online.

This is all well and good, except for the fact that we are now living in the digital mobile age. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a tablet to access the Internet doesn’t matter. What you’re looking for is mobility, convenience, and personalization. This is where Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY)and Amazon’s weak spots are. While they do have a very mobile-friendly versions of their websites, this is not enough. Mobile consumers are looking for something more immediate, localized, and would make sense in their own personal lives. Put all these factors together and you have the peer-to-peer mobile app e-commerce model, where people using their mobile phones can sell personal items using app-based exchanges. It’s still too early to tell whether this model of peer-to-peer or many-to-many exchanges would dislodge Amazon and Ebay.

I highly suspect that there will always be a niche for people looking for peer-to-peer experience. But for the most part, people aren’t all that creative or all that experimental. What worked for them in the offline world is working for them in the online world. Unless things fundamentally change in terms of the value, personalization, and experience peer-to-peer mobile e-commerce apps bring to the table, I don’t see Amazon’s Jeff Bezos losing sleep at night and thinking about the peer-to-peer mobile commerce world.

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