E-commerce is a hot topic nowadays, and I agree with you that e-commerce aggregators play a significant role in the picture. They have brought huge impacts to our life in various areas, as you have pointed out. To a certain extend, I think e-commerce aggregators are shaping our economy by changing people’s consuming habits.
Traditionally, people will go to retail stores or supermarkets to buy staff. But with the increasing popularity of e-commerce platforms, they found that they could buy things more conveniently from home with lower price. One of the reasons is that the retail prices of the goods are driven down by the aggregators because distributors no longer need to pay the house renting of the retail stores and hire a lot of retail clerks. This changed consuming habit at least has the following major direct economic impacts:
- The cost for running small businesses is greatly reduced. Many individuals or families in China started up their business on the Taobao platform. In 2013, there were about 7 million active sellers on Taobao.
- The development of the logistics industry is greatly pushed by e-commerce. For example, in 2015, the “Single’s Day” event resulted in 678 million parcel shipments, which pushed China’s logistics system to its limit.
- More and more retail stores either become vacant or are closed. It was reported that in 2015, about 15% of the malls in the United States were 30–50% vacant due to the impact of online shopping.
Indirect impacts can extend to even more areas. For example, the real estate industry will surely feel the impact when merchants disappear from big malls.
If we take it to the global level, we can see that the international trade and global economy are also being shaped by global e-commerce aggregators, such as Alibaba, iHerb, or Amazon. For example, for product quality or price reasons, many people in China are buying staff online from other countries, which led the country to impose new taxes (a flat tax of 11.9% on goods up to $309 US dollars). E-commerce, combined with traditional commerce channels, may also cause unbalanced goods availability in many countries. As many Chinese people bought infant formula from Australia, the local parents were left outraged because not enough was left for their own babies.
It is interesting to look into different areas that are impacted by e-commerce and its aggregators, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.