The internet has proven again and again to be exceedingly successful at removing friction. Evan Williams, a co-founder of Twitter, said it best: "Here's the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar Internet company," Williams says. "Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time ... identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps."Retailers add steps. Retailers add friction. They add friction for manufacturers. They add friction for shoppers. The future of retail is marketplaces. If you need further proof, see Tmall and the many other marketplaces in China.What about the last mile? Produce. Deli. Immediate need. Amazon is mopping that up too with their prolific experimentation with Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh Pickup and so on.In the multi-year battle between the Amazon retail and Marketplace teams, I am a firm believer that Amazon has determined Marketplace the winner and will increasingly push brands into it. This push confirms it.
I believe a crisis of confidence in reviews is imminent. It's not just fake reviews. It's also the thousands of review clubs and review programs offering product for free or at a discount for "unbiased" reviews. This is never the same as authentic reviews for a product a shopper wanted, sought out, and purchased at full price. Given how dependent shoppers are on reviews, the realization that so many are not as "genuine" as they once believed creates lack of trust in the rating.Amazon would do well to continue to pursue means of ensuring reviews are from buyers motivated by a real need, rather than a program. Note: they started this with Amazon Vine. They need to reconsider whether that is still a good strategy/program. I would argue it is not.