GoCoop has coined the term social marketplace. But what exactly does it mean?
Marketplaces have historically been places of commercial exchange where buying and selling occurs. Environments where this buying and selling takes place have evolved significantly throughout history: from agoras in Ancient Greece and shop stalls in the Middle Ages to department stores during the Industrial Revolution and shopping malls in the early twentieth century. In recent years, marketplaces have also evolved from a physical experience to a virtual one; with the development of mail order catalogues, TV infomercials, and, most recently, online shopping, consumers no longer need to be physically present to purchase goods. With this advent of online consumerism has come a new type of shopping area: the online marketplace.
An online marketplace is a website that aggregates products from various sellers where buyers can browse, compare, and purchase products online. Similar to an e-shopping mall, online marketplaces allow for hassle-free shopping from the comfort of one’s computer screen. Major online marketplaces include companies such as eBay and Amazon.
GoCoop has taken this online marketplace model one step further and coined the term social marketplace. The definition of social marketplace is two-pronged: buyers and sellers in the marketplace can interact socially via a listing service, search, e-commerce, and GoCoop Connect. The marketplace’s mission is also socially driven, promoting organizations who may not otherwise have access to fair market prices or technology.
GoCoop’s social marketplace allows buyers and sellers to connect in a unique way. The site provides each cooperative with a profile page, which lists the organization’s basic information, location, website, and uploaded products. GoCoop also provides a robust search function where users can find cooperatives based on industry, geography, products, and service categories. On top of this, the social marketplace facilitates both individual and bulk e-commerce sales for sellers, and GoCoop’s attentive customer support team ensures a smooth ordering process. Lastly, GoCoop Connect, perhaps the most advanced aspect of the social marketplace, enables cooperatives to communicate with each other, share best practices, and even facilitate cross-country collaboration. All of these features come together to create an innovative online experience that combines discovery, shopping, communication, and collaboration.
In addition to creating opportunities for social interaction, GoCoop’s marketplace is socially driven; the site caters to those who lack access to consumer markets. GoCoop partners with cooperative producers in rural areas whose traditional means of making sales depend on intermediaries. These middlemen tend to make high marginal profits off the cooperatives’ goods, and they rarely share this revenue with the enterprises. The social marketplace connects buyers directly to cooperatives, eliminating intermediaries as well as empowering organizations to act as free agents and capture profit that is rightfully their own.
The social marketplace also allows cooperatives access to technology, enabling them to become an online business and have direct access to consumer markets. GoCoop has invested resources in technological education and training programs to ensure successful adoption of this technology and support cooperatives’ growth from the grassroots level. Check out a GoCoop cooperative profile page here.
GoCoop’s social marketplace is an innovative strategy that benefits buyer and seller alike. It promotes organizations who traditionally have not had access to consumer markets while creating a unique buying experience that educates users and encourages collaboration amongst buyers and sellers. Such a structure proves that purchasing products online can be more than just a business transaction– an idea that may make the social marketplace the marketplace of the future.