The Creation of Consumer Commerce on the Web

When it comes to the Internet, Mario Morino knows when a legacy is born. He spent most of the 1990s coaching Web start-ups as founder of the Reston, Va.-based Morino Institute, whose Netpreneur program helped catalyze entrepreneurship on the East Coast.

Today, Morino is chairman of Venture Philanthropy Partners Inc. in Washington and a special partner at the private equity investment firm General Atlantic Partners LLC in Greenwich, Conn. He spoke with Computerworld about the role Amazon.com has played in the legacy of e-commerce.

What impact has Amazon.com had on the e-commerce industry in terms of filling or creating a consumer or business need? Amazon.com was in many respects the birth of sustainable consumer-based commerce transacted across virtual electronic networks. Many forget that electronic business interaction has been a reality since the mid-'70s, perhaps earlier, when close partners passed proprietary trading information to aid in business process management. However, [consumer business interaction] had no such legacy to build upon prior to Amazon.com.

What impact has Amazon.com had on the e-commerce industry in terms of creating new technology? Amazon.com's technology for tying all of its consumers together into one community was very advanced and impressive. And there's no question that Amazon.com raised the bar for the field, with its relentless focus on the consumer and the consumer experience.

What were Amazon's biggest technology successes? Its biggest success was creating a buying community -- a chaotic network of purchasers whose comments and discussion, initially on books and music, then on other goods and services, helped form the basis for an electronic environment that became a comfortable, trusted place to shop. Many who say Amazon.com is "mail order on steroids" miss this. After all, mail order never provided for the interaction across consumers and never established the types of networks currently in place that are driving consumer electronic commerce.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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