Smart shopping mobs
August 5th, 2007

Judy Breck wrote last month about Chinese consumers that were connecting online via such sites as teambuy and then coordinating “mob buying” of up to 500 people at a time to secure a 10-30% discounts on big ticket items. The phenomenon seems to be growing. Techcrunch recently posted about Boulder, Colorado based e-swarm:

“Buyers register for a free account then join current swarms (groups of buyers) or create new ones. Swarms can be focused on any consumer good, debt refinancing, pre-paid gift and debit cards and even insurance products. Sellers then bid for the business.

The theory is that the larger the swarm, the more attractive it will be to sellers. Once a seller lodges a first bid, membership to the swarm is frozen and other businesses have 48 hours to counter bid.

eSwarm also provides charities and organizations with a fundraising tool; creators of swarms can stipulate that a percentage of the total sale is donated to their charity of choice.”

I am convinced that this type of consumer mob behavior will soon give way to direct buying between the consumer and factories, resulting in even bigger cost savings…and another economic paradigm shift as many consumer middlemen (in distribution, sales, marketing, and retail) are slowly phased out or repurposed.

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