Minutiae, perfect competition, and thriving online marketplaces

There are a couple phrases I'm muttering under my breath as I do things these days.  "Down in the weeds" has been especially fitting.  We've experienced a host of interesting technology issues blocking our path forward on the launch of our marketplace.  Never fear, even without a superhero helping out, one by one, we have knocked them off.  In the process, I am personally learning more than I ever wanted to know about coding, php, css, databases, and software reliability. We've also been tied to a dock and shore power during this evolution.  We're working with our virtual private server (VPS) that we access via the same Verizon and Sprint data plans we use at anchor--we just have more power to run a full size computer and we're getting 4G here vs the 3G sketchy signal we often see while at anchor.  Both David and I are itching to take a sailing trip -- even a short spin around the Farallon Islands with a stop over in Drake's Bay to listen to the odd elephant seal sounds and watch the fog come and go.  Soon, soon.

Coming up outta the weeds for fresh air and taking a quick breath, I am very excited to tell you that we're now open for business with our nautical online multivendor marketplace. You can go in, take a look around and perhaps buy yourself a few different kinds of nautical things -- a hat from a boating group, some stainless steel wear pads, some traditional caulking irons, or a really lovely comforter set, by an entrepreneur in Maine, for your sailboat v-berth.  You can even support a budding entrepreneur & seafarer by buying her original art.

Big sigh of relief that the marketplace is out there, the platform works (with a few minor glitches) and we are gaining sellers on the platform.  Yeah!  We're in the game now and we hope to grow.  I've got to say that the weeds are thick and the trees are many.  I'm sitting up high today though, looking at the landscape and I'm hopeful about what I'm seeing.

I enjoy reading great blogs and articles about today's (online) marketplaces and I agree with Jeff Jordan's thoughts about perfect competition and market structure. He states that anyone who manages a marketplace must nurture and manage perfect competition in order for their marketplace to thrive.  He related some important mantras to achieve a great marketplace.  I agree with his summary points and will endeavor to achieve these:

— Maintain a level playing field where every participant has the opportunity to succeed based on his or her individual efforts.

— Maintain complete transparency in the marketplace so that participants (especially buyers but sellers too) have perfect information on products and their pricing.

— Focus heavily on safety so the marketplace is as safe as possible to create the trust required on both sides.

— Promote ever-greater economic empowerment for sellers, and create an efficient structure where marketplace fees were at levels that allow sellers to achieve this. (When he was managing eBay, they estimated that over a million sellers earned part or all of their living on the platform.)

It's the wee hours of the morning.  "Not enough hours in the day" is another phrase I've been thinking about.

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