E-commerce is fine, as far as it goes. That is: as far as the seller-based industrial model can take it. Where it doesn’t go is to customer independence and agency.
We will never get either of those as long as everything we can do in online markets is on commercial platforms where others provide all the means of engagement, all the terms and conditions, all the rules, all the privacy, all the prices, all the identities, all the definitions of loyalty, all the choices for everything.
Back in the physical world, we also have lots of retail and service giants who do all those things. But they don’t run the whole show, like they do online. In the physical world, we still have natural marketplaces: main streets, crossroads, byways and other essentially open spaces where no one company owns the whole place and customers are free to browse, inform, identify themselves (or not), express loyalty, negotiate prices, form agreements, keep records, and not be tracked like marked animals.
It’s time for online markets to work like natural ones do offline: markets where we are independent and operate as free agents without fear of surveillance or unwanted controls by others.
When we have those online, they will comprise a new category of commerce. Our name for that category is i-commerce. It works with the first person singular pronoun (I), with indendence, with a lower-case i that looks like a person, and with our long-standing expectation that an intention economy will eventually develop.
It’s also what we expect the Intention Byway to bring into the world, starting with geographical and topical communities, each a commons of customers—and of companies ready to engage with independent customers.
And no, e-commerce won’t go away. But i-commerce is what we need online, and our job here is to help make that happen.