Issue No. 225: eCommerce and middle America

 

A last word: Amazon v. Alibaba

The differences between Alibaba and Amazon are numerous but there is one glaring difference. eCommerce in America is increasingly marketed as a solution for the middle-to-upper class. In China, eCommerce has made progress opening channels to rural and poorer citizens. Here, it is a novelty and growth is more difficult. In China, eCommerce is an economy open to all (mostly out of logistical necessity).

At last survey, eCommerce has a 30%+ adoption rate in China vs. 12%+ in the United States.

Why the difference? eCommerce is a relative luxury in America and the cost of fulfillment is to blame. With the (1) proliferation of “free” shipping, (2) the skyrocketing costs of warehousing, (3) and the slim margins of many major eCommerce players, adoption is reduced to a smaller slice of the American population than our Chinese counterparts.

In short: in America, we only market to people that can best support our rising logistics costs.

It is through this lens that you should view Amazon and Walmart’s recent developments. While we’ve all read the strategic differences between Amazon’s acquisition strategy and Walmart’s, one similarity is that both are moving upmarket. Solid Yarn Spun Tees and Kombucha Tea anyone?

See more of the issue here.

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