The Internet as a Global Marketplace
For over a decade all the talk in business has been about globalisation. Big companies are now worldwide, and brands like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Disney are recognised in almost every country, for better or worse.
But it’s the Internet and the online world that’s the true face of globalisation. The online marketplace really is global. With a credit card you can buy almost anything from anywhere in the world. The Internet literally offers a whole new world of shopping.
What’s On Offer On The InternetHave you been trying to obtain a CD or book that’s not published in this country? Perhaps a Japanese dress you’ve seen in a magazine? All you need to do is go online and you can find it with a simple search.
The Internet has created a shopping revolution. On a global level, e-commerce, as it’s known, is massive business, and some online companies have become massive retailers, such as Amazon, which began as a book retailer in the mid 1990s and now sells almost everything, a giant in the online marketplace, with sites for several different countries.
It’s actually an exciting time to be a shopper. If you’re careful, using the Internet means you can make your money stretch further, and find items that are different, even unique.
The Downside Of The Internet As A Global MarketplaceFor consumers, Internet shopping is like being a kid in a sweet shop. We’re spoilt for choice, able to purchase goods from anywhere in the world – and the online marketplace is geared to sell on a global scale.
For retailers, however, it’s a different matter. People only have so much money to spend, so they’re all chasing a finite amount of currency. That means a lot of competition, and the losers for several years have been bricks-and-mortar retailers. Although we’ll still pick them for some things – groceries, for instance, and furniture – in many instances we turn to the Internet.
Internet retailers have a number of advantages over their High Street counterparts. They can show everything, whereas others are constrained by space and inventory. Often they don’t have inventory problems, as they don’t hold the goods themselves, but channel the orders to wholesalers and manufacturers. All of this is squeezing retailers, and forcing many out of business. Those who have shops around the country also offer online shopping, recognising the power of the online marketplace to reach those who can’t come to their stores.
But where we’d once have pumped money into our local economies, rarely leaving out hometowns to buy things, now that cash flows globally, much of it overseas, which can have an adverse effect on the British economy as it affects the import-export balance of trade.
Internet shopping certainly offers lots of advantages for consumers – you can compare prices for everywhere, you don’t need to spend money on petrol, parking, and have to deal with traffic. It might not always be cheaper, but the convenience and the choice can cancel out cost. Instead of sometimes waiting weeks for something to be in stock again at a physical retailer, goods are dispatched promptly.