The economy is a multi-sided market. Many have tried to build such a platform, and a few have succeeded. To build and scale, and then support a multi-sided market, each of its core components – the sides, the underlying mechanism, the environment that makes the commerce happen – have to come together just so.
The large and complex multi-sided market that is the economy has been purposefully broken in order to be saved, because the health of sides is critical for economic survival. As we begin to note the resulting devastation as this multi-sided market stalls, the impetus to unbreak the ties is growing.
But to optimally reconnect, the timing and the mood, the protocols, the flows, and most of all, the knowledge of one side that others are present, attentive and engaged, all of these things are much like in a chemical reaction that requires perfect elements and measures in combination to yield desired results.
It isn’t enough for the store to open up its doors. The shelves have to be stocked, the shopping carts and checkout must be functioning, the staff must be in place and ready to assist, and lest we overlook the most important thing, the customers must be interested and present.
For different stores of different types with different products and locations, the multi-sided chemical reaction will yield different results… The economy, which is the aggregate of all the stores, will have a different profile… Initially, and possibly ongoing.
What makes the outcome particularly difficult to predict – even more than the success of a new multi-sided marketplace that might be launched as a startup operation – is that in the broader economic sense the store’s staff and its customers are one and the same. Supply and demand, in other words, are not just interlinked in this case, but conjoined.
When the marketplace is relaunched, both sides must be willing and able, and the activity combined must be fluid and engaged, as it was before, for this startup operation to scale and function as before. It’s venture risk, venture reward, but in this case we’re all investors, customers, and operators, at once.