Walking down the aisles of a super store like Walmart or browsing the categories of an on-line super store like Amazon, I take for granted the choices in products that are laid out for me. Isn’t that these guys’ job? Go out and get the best possible products in terms of price and quality….get them in front of an amazingly large population…see what sells and make adjustments to the product lines that are carried. These are the big Sellers – the aggregators – Pure Sellers, not Creators.
Then, there are the not-so-big Sellers – either very ‘home-made’ and low-volume products from the neighborhood bakery and the art gallery; or the high-end, life-style products with exclusive branding that just cannot be placed next to any other product. Usually these Sellers are the Creators themselves, and need to excel in both areas to sustain themselves and grow.
So if I am a Creator, I need to decide how I get my customers – vie for attention from the big aggregators or sell myself – depending on my production-volume and/ or the perceived exclusivity of my product.
As with all other products, consumers are gravitating towards ‘super-stores’ for travel purchases. The big Seller’s list in travel products is now getting a shake-out and will be interesting to watch. The usual places to look for travel were Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Orbitz – but all of them have ‘deals’ with Creators and influence the product lines they carry – similar to the Walmarts and Amazons of the world.
The new deal is the Search Engine. Google has finally convinced everyone that if something is out there, they can find it by googling (a bona-fide English language verb now!). There are the top three or four ‘search engines’ for jobs, cars, housing, books, music….and travel. If you are any good as a Creator, you are expected to pop-up on all the searches done at any Seller’s online store or main-street store.
The new “Sellers/Shoppers” are Kayak – stronger with their acquisition of Sidestep, and Yahoo! Travel – deeper now with their showcasing of Farechase technology. Both Kayak and Yahoo! emphasize that they are not stores, but your personal search agents that go out and do your shopping across multiple Superstores and smaller stores. There have been rumors of the venerable Google getting into the Travel Personal Shopper business, although Google has pooh-poohed any immediate plans in the past. But the latest excitement in this space may be catching……
So if I am a Creator aiming at the big league, not only do I need attention from the big Seller-Aggregators, but I need to do my best to show up in the Personal Search Agent searches.
This online world has made the third layer in distribution – the Personal Shopper – affordable and attractive for all consumers. The Creators now have a shot at bypassing the Aggregator-Sellers.