The typical business model, supply chain used to be quite straight forward; There is a manufacturer that sources the materials and creates a product. A wholesaler would buy the product from the manufacturer and resell it for a small margin to the retailer, which the again sells the product to the end customer. On every step of the way, a little extra margin is added to the original price of the item so that everybody gets its share. The internet has changed that.
From TechCrunch, to New York Times or WSJ, everybody has proclaimed “The Death of The Middleman”. The internet has made it possible for manufacturers to reach customers directly via a website. Thus creating a better offer for both ends as the intermediary does not receive its share anymore. The supply chain is getting shorter, as manufacturers started to sell directly to costumer, at times even via their own mobile application, which even allows customers to personalize their purchased goods according to their needs.
The middleman is redefining itself and we see him again as concierge service and the like. Offering that extra service the modern customer of today is asking for. But how sustainable is that? In a highly technologized world, will it not be only a question of time until manufacturers than again are able to offer state of the art service by themselves via an App for example?
Amazon may be one of the most extreme examples. Not only does amazon.com offer the largest product range on the web for the end consumer, they increasingly start to offer own products. We see products like “amazon basics”, which are sold under the amazon brand and cover products all across the categories. Amazon knows its customers and it knows them well. How can any concierge service compete with amazon offering tailor made products?
Amazon does it, Netflix does it too. Increasingly becoming a competition to Hollywood, by offering their customers their own productions, often financed with gigantic budgets that make Hollywood productions seem small.
What’s the value of a middleman in modern eCommerce?