No doubt he local space is heating up. We are starting to see an all out war and currently there are 4 major players lining up their guns and taking aim on the local marketplace.
Groupon recently went public on the Nasdaq and is the undisputed king of daily deals, creating a new movement in local commerce known as the group coupon. Yet things are not all rosy as they also created quite a bit of controversy as they approached the finish line. Their numbers are greatly scrutinized and they can’t seem to shake questions regarding the validity and sustainability of their current model. Groupon no doubt made a significant splash in the local space, but do they have what it takes to transform our daily consumer lifestyle?
Google’s eyes have been on the local economy ever since they realized a critical mass of searches are local in origin. Early on they knew local was a goldmine, the tough part has been designing products which bridge the gap between local consumer and local merchant in a way that adds value for both. Google Places, HotPot, the purchase of Zagat, the failed acquisition of Groupon, and now Google Offers are all attempts to make a play on the local marketplace. But to date it is hard to argue they have made any significant progress in solving the local market conundrum. Will they do it?
EBay, the buyer/seller marketplace who has lingered on the outskirts of the web for more than a decade (and hinged earnings on a payment platform) looks to be emerging as a solid player in the local marketplace. The combination of a number of acquisitions have placed them in a drivers seat helping power the next generation of location specific platforms. Milo, Magento, Zong and Where all offer unique value propositions that when grouped together create a strong combination – and a strong competitor to the Googles and Amazons of the world. This is one to watch…
The king of worldwide online commerce is Amazon, and I guarantee they their sights are set on the last mile of the web – the local market. Their $175 million investment in LivingSocial seem a lot like a “look and feel” investment as they watch how the landscape is taking shape. Make no mistake, the leader in worldwide e-commerce would love to be the worldwide leader in local commerce as well. The question is, do they know how to do it in the way the everyday consumer will appreciate?
Ultimately, it is nearly impossible to predict who will eventually win out in the local market. Remember, Google was late to the search party…
Another valid question is: will any of these major players hit the home run or will a new, tremendously different but effective startup with a better combination of commerce and communications transform our everyday consumer experience?
Share your thoughts in the comments.