Local e-commerce platforms fight Amazon


Abroad, local online marketplaces that have entered the market as challengers to Amazon are already mushrooming. Modern Retail e-commerce magazine has gathered some examples to illustrate the tactics used by these small businesses selling local products online to overthrow the dominance of the big behemoth.

Amazon isn’t for everyone

American Cherie Edilson sold handcrafted buckle through her own business in her traditional shop. Because of the expansion of the customer base, it has been raised that it would cooperate with Amazon, but the platform has rules, expectations, restrictions that are unbridgeable for small businesses. Edilson didn’t mingle much, instead of launching Shop Where I Live, a network of city and settlement-specific e-commerce platforms. The website offers its partners the opportunity and convenience of online orders by not relying on giant companies such as Amazon.

The platform is free for businesses, Edilson does not ask for a commission, he earns his money through partnerships. Part of the business policy is that you only get a foothold in a new city if a local business organization – chamber of commerce, economic development organization, local government – undertakes the partnership.

New local platforms are being born

The Covid-19 crisis has affected many businesses that have previously invested resources solely in their physical shops, so they had no strategy for the online presence when it came to switching from one minute to the next.

At a time of restrictions due to pandemic, many retailers around the world who had not previously seen the need to do so appeared in the online space. Many of them turned to big platforms like Amazon, which recorded a huge revenue surge during the pandemic. This trend has also helped a network of ever-growing Shop Where I Live e-commerce platforms that offer a local alternative to Amazon. Their vision is about an online shopping world that is not dominated by huge markets but decentralized, localized market websites that carry out this task. Small local e-commerce sites use new business models, collect small trading partners, and try to grow organically and locally.

In addition to private initiatives, more and more city administrations are re noting this new opportunity. For example, the Canadian city of Quebec has also been at the head of a similar e-commerce platform. Le Panier Bleu is a combination of tools, guides, and services that help Quebec traders operate their physical business during the crisis and improve their online activities. More than 20,000 businesses have already registered on the site, and a survey found that 60 percent of locals had already heard of the platform.

The French city of Anger, known as Angers Shopping, has also launched an online shopping portal for local businesses in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry there. On the site, the city’s traders are gathered on a common site, so they also offer the opportunity to introduce not only the inhabitants of the region but also the whole of France, to their local wealth.

On a similar basis, but at Bookshop.org, there is a book buying platform that encourages people to shop online from local independent bookstores. The bookshop boasts impressive results from its start-up: in its first year of operation, an estimated 2 percent of Amazon’s market share was acquired as revenue.

The common principle, different operation

Platforms that want to break Amazon’s hegemony work differently. In the case of Shop Where I Live, they only provide the platform, but businesses have to deliver the ordered products themselves. In the meantime, other localized platforms are more actively involved in offering delivery and delivery services to their partners. For example, Cinch Market, which cooperates with dozens of Brooklyn-based businesses, also handles orders from retailers registered with them.

Shopify worth gold
In the local e-commerce space, Shopify is a free app that helps small businesses build online stores. Many people credit Shopify with the survival of traditional dealerships who had to switch to e-commerce at lightning speed. At the same time, businesses using Shopify must continue to promote their website from scratch, which is too big a task for any struggling retailer. Cinch, Shop Where I Live, Bookshop, and other marketplaces have a symbiotic marketing strategy, and when the market is advertised to its customers, all businesses registered with them benefit.

Collective marketing and local value

Shop Where I Live, for example, also finances print, radio, and social media ads, and some subcontractors organize online events to lure people to the site. At the same time, these local marketplaces are young businesses: they don’t have the scale to compete with Amazon. At present, their value and strength lie much more in collective marketing and knowledge and preservation of local culture.

Although Amazon has big data in its hands, it is not physically or emotionally connected to the area, says Tracey Solomon, a partner at Cinch Market, who says the mission of small local platforms is to try to sell locals to the local community, thereby keeping the money locally.