Why goal-driven markets are the antidote to Amazon


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Child of a nomadic entrepreneur, I moved around a lot. I have been in 45 of the 50 US states and have lived in eight. It wasn’t until my early thirties, however, that I made it to Oregon and the “maker city” of Portland. The culture was unlike anything I’d known. As I walked the streets of the neighborhood, without chain stores, I realized how rare it is to be in a community where small local businesses thrive.

At the start of the crisis, the world went digital. We have learned, worked, practiced and shopped online. In what many thought was a temporary change, the visibility and convenience factor of e-commerce giants like Amazon put our small business economy at risk. Institute for Local Self-Reliance survey reveals three quarters of independent retailers see Amazon’s dominance as a major threat to their survival. He is.

From 2007 to 2017, while Amazon was on the rise, the number of small retailers fell 65,000. About 40 percent of the country’s small clothing, toy and sporting goods manufacturers have disappeared, along with about a third of small book publishers.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Value-based markets are emerging to promote local small businesses globally. These online hubs allow consumers to find products based on what matters most to them. They’re the digital equivalent of the corner maker’s knowledge, and they just might be the antidote to Amazon’s war on small businesses – that is, if consumers buy into it.

Related: The Future of Online Shopping is ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’

Behind the Curtain of Amazon’s “Benevolent Monopoly”

In Dave Eggers’ new satire The whole thing he paints a dystopian future where a fictitious search engine company buys an e-commerce giant. The corporate juggernaut algorithmically controls access to everything from housing to food to jobs, however, its abuse of power is disguised as what Eggers calls “benevolent market control.”

In the world of non-fiction, the real Amazon invests a lot in public relations efforts to present itself as a community player that has a “mutually beneficial relationship” with small businesses. Yet only 11 percent of companies selling on its site describe their experience as a success.

Whether it’s cornering the online marketplace and preventing small businesses from having relationships with their customers to selling discounted products to dominate market share, Amazon’s benevolent optics is marred by unscrupulous practices.

I’m not saying e-commerce giants like Amazon have no place in the retail market. If a customer lives far from a major city and cannot afford bandages or essential medical supplies, they should be able to get their products online. However, when these large global corporations promote a destructive cycle of production, consumption and commodity at all costs, we must stop and ask ourselves: What will our retail world be like in 10 years?

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Convenience is killing biodiversity in our retail business

Last year, while preparing my home in Portland, I needed a dresser and bought it on Wayfair. The next day, as I was driving through my new neighborhood, I realized there was a local furniture store five minutes away with a great stock. It wasn’t for lack of desire that I hadn’t stopped there before, it was for lack of awareness.

Lack of awareness among small businesses through online research is an Internet-wide problem. SEO-savvy ads and businesses dominate both paid and organic search, creating an uneven playing field for local stores. Alone two percent of brands owning the first page of search results on Google and it’s only getting worse.

Value-based markets can change that. As consumers know where to shop based on their values, they can consciously choose to bypass tech giants like Amazon. This is how we can build a more sustainable and diverse small business economy.

When you buy from a small business in your neighborhood, that money is pumped back into the local economy, supporting local job growth and paying for community infrastructure such as public schools and hospitals. When you buy from Amazon, 30% of your money goes back to Amazon. Think about it. Was it your intention to fund Bezos’ space race?

Fortunately, more and more people are realizing the power of their buying habits and using them to shape the future they want to see. In 2020, Generation Z and Millennials spent 3 trillion dollars in purchases companies that reflect their values. 82 percent said they would spend more to support local businesses after the pandemic.

Eggers’ dystopian view of an America ruled by a corporate dictatorship is a warning of what can happen if we don’t realize the real cost of our spending decisions. I would say we are on the edge of this cliff.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about our ability to make different and better choices. Over the past year, we have seen people coming together to change laws that are systematically designed to suppress entire populations. I believe we can all learn to shop our stocks. It’s time we embraced our power as consumers, one click at a time.

Related: 14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

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