Is Collaborative Consumption the Future of e-Commerce?

What’s in store for e-commerce?  A recent book, What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, offers a glimpse at a potentially big shift.

Using a wide range of examples, such as websites that specialize in toy and tool rentals, garden swapping, and community-based credit systems, What’s Mine is Yours talks about the shift to peer-to-peer transactions.  Apparently, quite a few people are increasingly bypassing the traditional supply chain and turning to the web to transact with each other.

This book focuses on social aspects, but I see an interesting technological shift as well.  Traditional business software (and I’m afraid that includes our opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM) were all functionally designed to help one organization.  We help you sell online, sell more effectively with your sales reps, manufacture your products, move inventory faster, and get real time results on everything from your customers to your finances.  But fundamentally, we help you move products from point A (i.e., a distributor) to point B (i.e., a customer), in a linear fashion.

As we all move into a shared computing cloud, peer to peer collaboration unlimited by traditional “business” roles becomes possible.  Customers can start to trade with each other.  Customers can trade directly with suppliers.  Former competitors, such as distributors or retailers, could start trading peer to peer.  The artificial walls of commerce, long enforced by the isolation of traditional enterprise software, are coming down.

This could be a fundamental shift.

2 Comments

  1. This does seem like the next big hype/trend. Though in place like India there might be some time yet to go as we lack basic logistics infrastructure to move physical goods between peers cheap and reliably.

    Would love a follow up post on the way an ERP/backend expert views this new world- challenges, etc.?

  2. Interesting. Remember that in the USA we need logistics infrastructure because it is very large and not dense here (outside of a few big cities along the coasts.)

    Do you think in India, where you have very large and dense cities, direct exchanges between people who live physically near each other can replace the logistics infrastructure? Perhaps people could use mobile phones to identify and trade directly with nearby peers, without the postal or shipping services?