Is New Media Changing Geographic Limitations?
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Up until the last few decades, commerce has largely been restricted by geographic region. Even with railways, trains and automotive vehicles consumers have preferred the connivence of purchasing from nearby providers. This was also the case with businesses to business companies. It was common practice for advertising agencies to open in multiple locations, as you could only expect to service those within your 40 mile region. These geographic limitations could be managed but rarely eliminated. If a purchase was important you could order it from a catalog -- or a client big enough you could fly them in -- but in either case it was largely inefficient.
New Media Shortens Distances
Many claim the internet has removed geographic limitations. The connivence of online shopping combined with the (sometimes) lower costs has many local establishments hurting for sales. The impact of e-commerce was minor at first. Online shopping used to be reserved for high price and hard to get goods. There wasn't a need to purchase mundane items online because it took to long to receive them and the cost of shipping negated any price benefits. But this is no longer the case. The fast shipping and great service of Zappos.com makes it easier to get your shoes online than drive to the store. Likewise the free shipping from Amazon Prime means ordering small household items like shampoo, paper towels and razors attractive.
This globalization of the marketplace has extended to B2B as well. With teleconferencing, online project management solutions, e-mail, instant messaging, forums, twitter and other forms of digital communication there's little prevent businesses from working with each other across long distances. Even more interesting is the effect on the job market. The latest trend is remote workers. Businesses don't need to be in close proximity to collaborate so why should employees? In fact, companies like Automattic (the primary backers of WordPress) and Mozilla (primary backers of FireFox) are almost completely virtual.
Are Local Markets Disappearing?
With all this in mind, it's easy to predict the downfall of local shopping. Yet if you go to the mall the stores are still being used. Grocery stores aren't going out of business and even my design firm works primarily with Ann Arbor and Michigan based clients. Is new media really eliminating geographic restrictions?
What is Your Experience?
Share your experiences. Do you primarily shop online? If so, why? If not, why not? Do you see new media eventually causing local based business to shrink or even be eliminated?