It’s so interesting to see how e-commerce is approached abroad. I think one of the lessons I’ve learned is that outside the US, mobile is king. Mobile-first apps are critical for success in overseas markets. I also appreciate Mercari’s investment in building mutual trust, which is crucial for online marketplaces. I wonder though how much the Japanese culture plays into this. Was the effort easier, since Japan is known to have a strong culture of trust, or harder since the population may not be accustomed to providing such feedback? I also wonder why no other international e-commerce company entered/found success in Japan. Is there something about Mercari originating in Japan that makes it more accessible to consumers and more easily regulated by the government (or allowed for easier partnerships? My intuition is yes.)? Did international e-commerce companies even have a chance of success? With Ebay and Yahoo!Auction have been incumbents, it makes me think that YES international companies could have made it work BUT that they severely underestimated the political, cultural, and technical differences that would have been necessary to understand first.
Really good insights into what and why things went wrong here. As someone coming from tech, I’m completely shocked at the DNP’s willingness to hire an untested firm; it makes me wonder if the process was based more on political connections (Clinton’s 2016 digital campaign) as is common in politics rather than merit/past success as is common in tech. I understand the pressure the DNP feels to catch up – but isn’t it worse to rush things that will end badly than to invest the time and energy to do it right? How could the pressure have mounted to the this fevered “do anything to catch up” state? I also wonder, did it have to be THIS app? Couldn’t there have been another way to integrate technology that would have shown the DNP’s willingness to engage with users digitally? Also, where was the plan B?? So many questions that I would love to have the DNP answer.
It’s incredible how lack of a clear digital strategy AND capabilities can lead to such a massive failure, a failure that as you pointed out could have been quiet had it not been for this being one of the most important preliminary events of the 2020 election.
Excellent post – I find it more impressive that this type of digital innovation was able to happen in an industry that is notoriously slow to catch up with digital trends. I think one additional factor to the NYT’s success was the changing consumer behavior. There was a time when free content was what online consumers, especially young consumers, expected. Why pay for a subscription when I can get my information for free (and just a click away)? But NYT saw this trend changing – they knew free 1) wouldn’t last forever and 2) couldn’t beat quality. They were willing to bet on quality content AND on the consumers who first starting buying into the notion of pay-for-digital-content, who believed quality content creators deserved to be compensated. Now, that payment/subscription model seems to be the norm and NYT excellently set themselves up for success as more and more individuals are willing to pay.