Networld + Interop Tokyo:
Internet has a place for middlemen after all
"I don't think that the Internet is a straightforward extension of today's marketplace," said Marty Tenenbaum, founder and chairman of CommerceNet, the U.S.-based electronic commerce consortium. Tenenbaum spoke to attendees at the Networld + Interop show in Tokyo in late July.
"Two to three-hundred years of gatekeepers are going to be gone -- swept away," he declared.
Since the Internet provides a direct link between customers and suppliers, the traditional retail channel won't be needed, according to some industry observers.
But while many Web-based businesses such as bookseller Amazon.com have successfully bypassed traditional distributors, the entrance of several Internet-based brokers shows that the Web may provide an entire new breed of middlemen, said Tenenbaum.
There are several examples of middlemen who add value, and a layer, to the customer/supplier link, he noted. These include Andersen Consulting's BargainFinder Agent, which searches online for the best price of a product, and the World Wide Web Firefly service, which can find music CD titles that might fit a customer's taste by searching for patterns of purchases made by other customers.
"The new Web businesses are about to be bypassed [by value-added
brokers]," said Tenenbaum. "Middlemen have to add real value."
--Rob Guth, IDG News Service, Tokyo Bureau
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