The word “platform” is thrown around a lot these days. It’s sometimes invoked for the sake of PR positioning, sometimes to make something sound more sophisticated than it is, but often the technology being described is really more of an application. A true platform is a central point in an ecosystem of apps that can be launched and managed from one place.
This is the definition that Sparkfly embodies. As I discussed with founder and CEO Catherine Tabor on the latest episode of Heard on the Street, the company integrates several local merchant functions through the single jumping-off point of its local merchant platform.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are the seeds of a new generation of open platforms and technologies aimed at evolving the platform paradigm to one of transparency, value share, and universal governance representation. Sharing value with users via data revenue share; allowing users access to insights generated about them and their peers and help to understand who is trying to engage with them and why; rev share and benefits for service providers; collaborative governance; and abolition of unilateral platform expulsion or rule changes are just several of the major changes on the table. A whole host of new open platform operating protocols is emerging.
Yes, we still shop at local stores, but the Walmart in the nearby shopping plaza isn’t the only competitor the local store needs to keep an eye on. Increasingly, it’s a host of online vendors and the growing crop of on-demand startups that have become an indelible feature of the local business landscape — both enablers and usurpers of their merchant partners.
The customer satisfaction surveys that most people are used to seeing on tabletops and cash wraps are undergoing an upgrade as hyperlocal vendors add location-based features to aid in the data collection process. “Intercept-style” surveys can be sent to customers at key moments in the purchasing process, like when they arrive at a store or after they’ve made a purchase…