Concept: Consumers joining together into a collective organization to obtain better prices through buying bulk and exert influence on companies and their behavior. Necessity for organization: items must be purchased through this organization in order for its leverage to be effective. Possible origin: large-scale housing cooperatives are large enough and would have a low enough per capita shipping cost through bundling (just have one big truck show up), plus internal political infrastructure, and could take advantage of bulk buying at their ordinary scale before considering more complex demands.
isn’t this basically just Socialist Costco
Yeah, but that’s a positive in terms of feasibility. Costco already exists as a viable model and has for some time.
Are you not already a member of a cooperative retailer association?
Step up senpai
Here’s one of the lessons you’ll learn:
There actually isn’t that much money to save. Retail is fiercely competitive at the margins, it’s one of the most wonderful examples of capitalism working almost exactly like Econ 101 tells you it will. If you go into a Walmart and purchase a product for a dollar, Walmart makes a cent. Less, if you buy with a credit card.
When I buy a liter of milk, the state makes more in sales taxes than the store makes in profit.
Now part of the reason there isn’t much money to make in retail is of course competition from cooperative retailers, but it’s also just competition from other commercial retailers. On my five minute commute, only counting stores that I pass within a hundred yards of, I see four different places to purchase groceries – two stores owned by the coop, one by a retail corporation, and one mall with lots of small independent grocers. If I expand out to “everybody within a mile of my commute,” I add two more competing retail chains, a large increase in independent grocers and so many extra individual stores that I can’t count them.
There is just
There’s no profit opportunity at all, unless you can leverage a very unique value add or have the ability to operate on massive scale.
An Important Edit
Ok so I have seen more of the chain of reblogs now.
Why isn’t there a coop tech infrastructure?
Well somebody would have to make it, I guess. And there’s so much money in the space for a successful venture, if you have the skills and motivation to pull it off, you’re probably out making fat stacks doing something else.
Also, I guess, network effects – even if you’re just two people living on an island, it makes perfect sense for them to agree that every time they’re on the mainland shopping, they’ll call the other one and hear if they need something, saving a second ferry trip over to the store. You can do a successful coop with a network of two people.
I’m not sure that’s true for a social network, where a large part of the value to the individual user comes from the large user base they can be entertained by (communication being already a solved issue – email exists, if commo was all you wanted)