Web was conceived about 25 years ago, by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau. It was actually developed on the French site of the border, and not in Switzerland. But it has Swiss, German, American, and Japanese influences too.
Kind of multinational, but mostly from developed countries.
Fifteen years later. the most users online come from the countries who started the web. Developed companies got there first. Mostly North-America, a few out of Japan and Korea.
The internet penetration is still quite low in other countries. Although there is lots of traffic from emerging economies now. 3 billion people still have to enter the internet. Thanks to the smartphone these people will be online quite faster than we expected.
Xiaomi for example. The company is kind of like Amazon, it has devices but sells apps, accessories, etc. They give the devices away, but they earn on the apps. They are now moving into South-East Asia. They have forked Android, but made it look very different although it is still compatible with the apps. They have crowd-sourced development. There are new updates every week. These are really cheap devices, between 20 – 50 euro, but they are not that bad devices.
What kind of internet will these people find?
We begin this story with sheep. Sheep are for sale on Instagram. If you have an Instagram account, you can slap a price tag on it and take a picture. People are hacking little businesses on platforms they found on the internet.
In Thailand there are 10.000 businesses that are only on Facebook.
For as long as there has been people, there are ad hoc businesses. It’s easy to add a phone number, or social messaging app account to these sites, but they are also pretty accurate. Some of Them even have tracing numbers posted on their Facebook page.
83% of the Thai use Facebook. It’s easy to get notifications, and it works even on old, crappy phones.
The largest growth for these kind of businesses is on the countryside, where there are not many brick-and-mortar shops.
41 cities in China have more than 2 million inhabitants. They have a middle class that’s growing at a rate of 80.000 people a day. Reaching 600 million rural residents in China can be hard. Reaching 700 million urban residents can be expensive to reach, even in cities.
Using a mobile phone isn’t a modern alternative, but their primary or only means to reach the internet.
In China 90% of online retail goes through market places to small businesses. it’s the modern version of the old market. The largest one is Alibaba’s Tmall. It has 180 million customers, 150.000 merchants, 200.000 brands. Brands are charged an entrance fee – to add a barrier for fraudulent businesses – and a commission for each sale.
The merchants get high visibility, high traffic, and a customizable, social media optimized platform.
There are even businesses that make sites in Tmall as a business. Hosting on Tmall is sometimes better than opening physical stores. Apple opened one last year and now even Amazon has one.
Taobao is a site like eBay. You pay for advertising to get people to your page.
You can buy your trip there for example, but also everything that you might need on the trip, from transport to visa.
On Tmall you can get a Peugeot or a Lamborghini.
Being on those sites is also a national pastime, like a second job or hobby. These sites have created millions of new jobs. People who make things can now enable the whole Chinese market.
Tmall goes to a village, sets up internet, trains people who know a bit about technology and makes them the resellers for the whole village.
Also Western consumers go to Alibaba. They buy stock directly in China and sell the finished product to North Americans on Etsy for example.
Send your measurements on Etsy and get a piece of custom clothing in a few weeks.
We now have a new kind of consumer who is digital-first.
How can consumers find the products they truly want? Young people have a Weibo micro-blog about fashion for example and also sell stuff that looks like what they wear and some of the more popular ones sell out in mere hours.
Online shopping neighborhoods have started that curate products. Kind of like Pinterest. Meilishuo has 32 million users. They get 5 million clicks, which earns them 3 million a year.
Social media is really big in China and other emerging countries. They are not sites, but platforms.
Wechat is entirely mobile. It has 500 million daily users. Nobody uses their phone to call, just to Wechat. It has an customizable API, and payment platform. You can make a kind of store inside the app via the API. You can chat with a virtual bot to ask about products they offer.
There’s no ‘one web’ over there. In China, and South-East Asia mobile is becoming a selling point. You need light apps, that run on old phones.
They are creating mobile only websites. You can see a poster, scan the QR-code, get to a page, and the call-to-action is to go to Wechat. It uses SVG etc. to keep it light-weight. It’s not working very well on desktop, gets stretched-out.
Why do they have it there, but not over here? There is almost no penetration in normal financial services.
Fear of counterfeits.
How do you know who to trust? There are millions of vendors. They have virtual escrow systems. The money you pay gets put in escrow until you say the product arrived fine.
Alibaba now started with Alipay, to get a payment system for other things.
yy.com is like Google Hangouts. You can find Karaoke, educational courses, podcasts, etc. But it has a virtual currency. You can teach things, and people can buy you things for credits. The top karaoke singers make 25.000 a month.
Wechat generates QR-codes for every new account. That’s your identity. You can subscribe by scanning a QR-code. They are using QR-codes to interact, and transact. For example at Starbucks.
They don’t have the baggage to wear them down.
Lamoda in Russia does e-commerce. But Russia has a problem with poor postal infrastructure. Also they are not trusting credit cards. They tried to send assistants to shoppers. You’re paying at the door, but they bring extra stuff that you might also want to buy and you can try it for 15 minutes and decide if you want it.
In China they call it a mobile fitting room.
In South-Korea they paste a supermarket on the wall, you can scan the QR-code and it gets delivered when you get home.
Combine drones with Lamoda up-selling? Nobody can predict what happens next.