The next generation marketplaces: Challenges and Opportunities

By definition, a marketplace is where a group of people gather to purchase and sell a large number of goods and services. The world of digital commerce experienced a huge leap forward by modernizing the definition of the marketplace after the massive adoption took place in the late 1990’s. At this time, buyers and sellers switched from the local square to their own PCs. Giants like Amazon and eBay were the pioneers of what is considered now, to be marketplaces 2.0.

Throughout this text, we will highlight a bit of these platform, data, and facts that show the current scenario of this segment, its problems, and what we can expect for the future of marketplaces. Read more!


The current context of marketplaces


Nowadays, neither physical location or operation hours are a limitation for millions of people to browse and purchase items online. Despite providing shoppers with an exceptionally convenient and effortless buying experience, online shopping has created several issues which come into play at times, such as dishonest sellers and customers receiving poor quality, or even damaged items.

Marketplaces behave as a middleman between the buyer and the seller to handle payments, dispute settlements and provide shipping directly to the end customer. This centralized business model proved to be highly efficient, and both Amazon and eBay remain among the most established, trustworthy, and powerful eCommerce businesses.

The huge power these companies have comes as the result of leveraging small & medium-sized online shops, which pay a multitude of fees for services such as listing, payment, dispute, and marketing. Sellers sometimes end up paying up to 30% of GMV to these “middleman” platforms as fees. Both sellers and buyers end up being affected in terms of pricing.

Not to mention data transparency, which is also a big concern between buyers and sellers with giants corporations. Consumers often have very little, to no control over their own data. Technologies based on Blockchain through decentralized processes could play a key role in the next generation of marketplaces and online shopping.

Vendors and shoppers stand to benefit greatly from the development of large and scalable marketplace systems. The aim is to bring more transparency throughout the whole buying journey with very low fees, that enable all parties to enjoy the functions of centralized marketplaces.

Actual facts about its scenario


Cross-border eCommerce growth

According to Forrester, the Asia-Pacific region will experience the greatest growth in terms of online sales. Cross-border eCommerce will be outpacing domestic growth with a compound annual growth rate of 17% between 2017 and 2022, compared with 12% for overall B2C eCommerce.

Indeed, shoppers are continuing to look beyond local/domestic online stores for better offers and product selection. Improved logistics, faster shipping, and a wide array of payment options are compelling consumers around the globe to purchase goods from vendors abroad. According to Nielsen’s Connected Commerce Report, 57% of online shoppers have made an online purchase in the past six months from abroad retailers.

Sure, selling worldwide brings in many challenges for vendors, especially when discussing SMBs sellers. One of the main concerns for foreign buyers is to trust vendors abroad. Reviews and research on companies are often done by buyers before making any purchasing decisions. Besides trust, we could identify language barriers, currency exchange, and localized marketing as important hurdles when looking to purchase abroad.

We must emphasize the opportunity for stores to use marketplaces from other countries to expand their operation and thus help in this growth of eCommerce cross-border.


High commissions and dominance of big marketplace players

Most of the time, SMBs find marketplaces the easiest way to start selling in the eCommerce market. The broad range of facilities, marketing-friendly product listings, the large buyer audiences, secure payment processing options, and customer support aspects are some of the services offered by the huge marketplace players, and these make them very attractive to vendors.

When a new international online seller wants to expand their global reach, they often see Amazon or even eBay as the first and sometimes only choices. Consider China, for example. In 2016, the number of sellers on Amazon’s marketplace from the Asian giant grew 1300 times. ⅓ of all new seller accounts that were opened in 2017 were from China, and Chinese sellers contribute to 25% of all Amazon sales.

Many times, brand credibility is a key role player that positions marketplaces among the best options of where to start. At the same time, that comes with a hidden price of paying higher fees, which could potentially range from 20% to 30%, to work with these big players.

Some current issues


Data silos

Giant eCommerce platform companies have unrestricted access to all shopping activities that happen on their sites. They collect and analyze the shopping behavior data to gain insight into each customer’s profile and better promote items while boosting sales.

Marketplaces generally don’t allow the vendors on their ecosystem to have access to the same amount of data that they have (for a number of reasons). Thus, sellers are continuously unable to have a clear understanding of how shoppers react to their product detail page. Occasionally, marketplaces will use their unlimited access to data to their advantage, which allows them to identify which items are popular and then sell those products at much lower prices to compete with the existing sellers.

Amazon owns a tremendous amount of data, such as lists of customer email addresses and browsing histories that its marketplace sellers are prohibited from accessing. While this practice ultimately benefits the marketplace, the lost transparency of data usage and the manipulation of data negatively affects both buyers and vendors. By retaining these lists, Amazon and eBay gain a competitive advantage and limit the seller’s’ ability to have closer relationships with customers.

Online buyer’s trust is expensive

As a seller, you can create an online store with a nice UI/UX design and sell quality products. Yet even then, potential customers will still be wary to shop with you because you don’t have a well-established reputation.

The increasing incidents of phishing scams and poor-quality customer service make consumers more cautious of purchasing online than ever before. It’s extremely important for an online seller to demonstrate their trustworthiness to their customers as soon as shoppers arrive at the retailer’s site.

To achieve optimal reliability, some sellers would need first to invest a lot of their budget on advertisement to attract their first group of customers with the intention of these customers leaving positive feedback about the online store for future customers to see.

Other strategies include buying social ads to expand their brand’s exposure. With a positive outcome, this method allows prospective customers to see the experience others have had with the brand. At the same time, however, this path could result in losing money and it can take months or even years before trust is established over the internet. At that point, it remains to be seen if the brand would even retain relevance.



Existing problems described previously could be traced to the core business logic of traditional eCommerce marketplaces. The traditional internet cannot support real-time value transmission nor irrevocable contracts, which makes intermediaries an unavoidable piece of the transition.

The profit-seeking nature of intermediary companies makes achieving profit the primary goal, instead of providing a truly efficient and fair trading environment. Using blockchain technology to realize the true decentralization of the eCommerce marketplace is the only way we could fundamentally solve these problems.

These facts might bring us some evolution in the way we trade globally and do eCommerce. Therefore, we very well may be experiencing the next generation of marketplaces even sooner than expected, in the near future.


About VTEX

VTEX is the only True Cloud Commerce platform in the digital commerce market with an auto-scaling elastic cloud infrastructure that leads to higher conversion rates, stronger customer loyalty, and lower TCO. Utilizing the exclusive patent-pending SmartCheckout™ technology – a secure, intuitive and easy password-free process, VTEX presents an excellent option for digital commerce. Companies running the VTEX platform have seen a 54% increase in conversion rates and a significantly lower rate of cart abandonment. Since 1999, VTEX’s pioneering R&D teams have provided customers all over the world with a comprehensive, fully-adaptable, omnichannel solution that keeps pace with ever-changing customer expectations. VTEX is trusted by over 1,000 clients worldwide including Walmart, Danone, Whirlpool, Coca-cola, Pandora, Avon, and Lego. To learn more about VTEX, please visit


By Victor Machado, Director Of Business Development at VTEX

Content marketing: does your brand influence your audience?

Marketing as we know it is undergoing a major revolution. In the wake of the major innovations that have transformed human relations, digital platforms such as social media and mobile devices have become what Marshall McLuhan, Canadian intellectual and the father of mass communication studies, calls “extensions of man”, because they expand people’s ability to function.

What does this mean? It means that digital has changed the type of conversation that people have not only with each other, but especially with their favorite brands. Today, consumers have access to information, literally, in the palm of their hands, and are no longer content with the pasteurized content they get from traditional advertisements. If before these tools were efficient, today, the have the opposite effect: they lead people to feel they have been “conned”.


Communication is no longer a one-way street


In various ways, consumers are now leading players in debates on social networks, the web, videos, podcasts or blogs. Their contributions can also become a major asset for companies to channel their communication to their target audience. That is why it is more important than ever before for brands to develop materials that are intelligent, focused and relevant.

Take, for example, the story which, according to the Content Marketing Institute, was the genesis of the modality

In 1895, a farmer called John Deere launched a magazine called “The Furrow” to give his colleagues tips on how to make their businesses more profitable.

This magazine was the starting point for the brand that takes the name of its founder to become one of the best-known global companies in the tractor and farm equipment industry. What is curious is that nowadays, Furrow is still published in 12 different languages in over 40 countries.

Well, what I am trying to say is that the reason for the success of Furrow was simple: it took relevant content to the right audience. If Mr. Deere had chosen to write a bulletin exhorting his neighbors to adopt his ideas simply “because they were good”, the tactic would probably have been dragged into the middle of other pamphlets that were distributed at that time.


“But, why is it so relevant?”, you may ask yourself.


Today’s content needs to convince the audience, not impose ideas


Let the obvious be said: in today’s hypercompetitive environment, companies looking for a place in the sun must position themselves as trend setters. What does this mean? If you really want to become a leading entrepreneur, you also have to be an influencer.

If you are incapable of influencing, you will also not be able to convince people to adopt your brand. Worse: you won’t even convince your team to fly your company’s flag and, as a result, your company will find itself ostracized.

Content marketing makes an impact because it helps you build your reputation as a benchmark for your audience. But then comes the question: how to go about it? What is needed to affect people’s behavior?.

Delivering value. Pure and simple.


The key is to generate added value


If you want to be influential, it is essential to give people some kind of value; after all, no one is going to fly the flag for someone they don’t admire.

Just stop and think: who are, or were, the persons who most influenced you, whether personally or professionally? Your answer is probably someone you held in great esteem. In other words, there was a positive impact, the content absorbed was relevant.

That is why we must never underestimate content marketing. When you produce materials that add value, answer pertinent questions or solve problems, you are influencing people. You are providing them with valuable information without demanding anything in return. Better still… your prospect will become a welcome potential lead without feeling coerced, something which today’s advertising finds more difficult to deliver than in times gone by.

Therefore, every company, regardless of its size, must create relevant and useful content that will bring your customers good benefits and huge returns for your company.

And how is content strategy at your company? Are you able to be a positive reference in what you produce and thereby attract the interest of prospects, leads and clients? Bring your example for comments here and on the social networks.


About VTEX

VTEX is the only True Cloud Commerce platform in the digital commerce market with an auto-scaling elastic cloud infrastructure that leads to higher conversion rates, stronger customer loyalty, and lower TCO. Utilizing the exclusive patent-pending SmartCheckout™ technology – a secure, intuitive and easy password-free process, VTEX presents an excellent option for digital commerce. Companies running the VTEX platform have seen a 54% increase in conversion rates and a significantly lower rate of cart abandonment. Since 1999, VTEX’s pioneering R&D teams have provided customers all over the world with a comprehensive, fully-adaptable, omnichannel solution that keeps pace with ever-changing customer expectations. VTEX is trusted by over 1,000 clients worldwide including Walmart, Danone, Whirlpool, Coca-cola, Pandora, Avon, and Lego. To learn more about VTEX, please visit


By Pedro Araújo, Corporate Communications Coordinator at VTEX

The Demise of Bookstores

“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent but the one most adaptable to change”- Charles Darwin.


About three years ago a respected Brazilian CEO of one of the most iconic Brazilian bookstores complained publicly that the “Black Friday” event was destroying the Christmas sales. You can read his declarations here.

Of course, he took into consideration much broader issues than merely Black Friday, such as poor infrastructure and complex tax and regulatory environment in the country. But it doesn’t matter if taxes are too high, if competition is unfair or if prices are too low. One either adapts, leaves the game, or even worse, is ousted from the game.


Humble beginnings, incredible history, challenging times


The first Cultura bookshop was founded by Eva Herz in 1947 in Brazil. It started as a book rental service for Germans that would move and reside in Brazil at that time. Two years later, Eva would give up on the rental service and start her own small bookshop. Later, in 1969, her son Pedro Herz would take over and transform the company into a destination for books and culture aficionados. The business grew and in 2017 Livraria Cultura overtook the Brazilian operations of the traditional retail chain FNAC, which ended up paying 36 million euros for the Brazilian company to take over its activities and shops in the country. The capital injection, however, wasn’t enough for Cultura to put their finances in order.

Last week, the popular Cultura bookstore chain filed a judicial recovery settlement which was accepted by the Brazilian court. The agreement was solicited to freeze the company’s debt and avoid further protests and bankruptcy requests. The restructuring costs which includes store closures, layoffs amid other actions will cost something approximately 60 Million Brazilian Reais, or 16 Million USD.


Let’s not blame it on Amazon


Amazon entered Brazilian market 6 years ago under the leadership of Mr. Alex Szapiro. Back then, Amazon sold only books.

I still remember when Valor Economico, a relevant business magazine in Brazil, published an article stating that the most significant book chains and stores sought legal help to limit Amazon’s participation and operations in the country. But it didn’t work out, and while these chains still await Congress to bypass a regulation that does not allow discounts over 10% of the face value of a book during its first year of publication, Amazon seems to be thriving and growing by leaps and bounds.

Amazon has announced a significant collaboration with Reserva, a well-established Brazilian fashion brand and has recently started selling electronics and applications. Brazilians love the user-friendly Amazon website and all conveniences offered by the company.

Bookstores aren’t in dire straits because of Amazon. Amazon, on the other hand, is indeed thriving because book chains neglected technology for a long time. There is no such thing as a silver bullet.


The truth is that bookstore owners have ignored the technology revolution and now they are paying the price.


An outlook on book sales in Brazil


  • The book market shrank 7% and 9% in 2015 and 2016 in total revenues respectively


  • In 2017 book market saw a recovery growing 3.2% in revenues compared to 2016


  • Total volume sold from 2016 to 2017 grew from 40 million units to 42 million units


  • Total revenue book market in 2017 was 1.7 billion reais (approx. 453 mln USD)


According to a late research made by Pro Livro, an institute that contributes to the betterment of Brazilian readers:


  • 30% of the Brazilian population has never bought a book
  • 44% does not read books
  • 56% are “readers” and read on average 4.96 books a year


Quick Outlook on the Digital Commerce Market in Brazil


  • Total Ecommerce Revenues grew from 2016 to 2017 by 7.5% despite the economy turmoil
  • Market total revenue for e-commerce reached 47 billion reais, something around 12 billion USD
  • Total e-commerce orders: 50 million
  • Books and magazines represent 8.3% of the total volume
  • Among categories purchased from international sites, book is the 10th category and represents only 10% of the total volume


Source: Ebit report


The data above doesn’t show us the whole picture. But it helps us get a notion of the bookmarket in Brazil and probably other countries that face the same challenge.

But similarly to the fashion business, I believe there is a huge opportunity for independent bookstores. A recent study by Colliers International shows how modern retail stores are growing in Central and Eastern Europe. In Romania and Bulgaria, the growth for modern retail stores peaks 20%. But carefully read what I just wrote. “Modern Retail Stores”, not “outdated” retail stores.   


How to survive and (maybe) thrive?


1) One size never fits all


Bookstores have traditionally occupied territory in a particular neighborhood. Members of that community, in return, created a very peculiar relationship to that bookstore.

Instead of thinking about “scale” why not invest in having a deeper connection with the members of the community in different neighborhoods? Why not understand who the main customers are, learn their consumption patterns and what they truly value about that specific shop? What sort of relationship do they have with the neighborhood? Why not invite your main customers and co-create the ideal shop with them? Do you think it’s a utopian idea?

Then Check how E.ON, a private energy company that focuses on renewable energies has redesigned their customer experience together with their customers.


2) Be here, when I need it.


We, as customers, are more impatient and demanding than ever. “Think with Google” has recently reported an upsurge in “near me” searches for particular items.

Why not make use of available data to create strategic partnerships with restaurants, pharmacies, theaters, sports stores, airlines or even by having a proactive approach and using search engines to its full potential to drive a foot traffic to your brick and mortar stores?

 The “near me” upsurge in searches is more common for urgency items but with creativity and great people working together, I’m positive bookstores could benefit from it as well.


3) Purpose


What is the purpose of having a brick and mortar bookstore? Is it only to sell books?

Once you understand who visits your shop, you might as well be able to craft unique experiences, events, celebrations for your visitors. Ryan Raffaelli, Assistant Professor in the organizational behavior unit at Harvard Business School, studied how independent bookstores would survive and thrive in the Amazon Era. He found that independent bookstores offering a wide range of events with the goal of putting people together are indeed doing very well.


4) Data and Millennials Movements


The British retailer, Missguided was born as a pure online player. Fast and forward to this day, Missguided, a fashion brand targeting women aged 16-35  proved it can genuinely understand and listen to their customers. Missguided has now two brick and mortar shops. All product curation is based on years of research of their customers and demographics needs and then translating it to the offline shops.

The company also promotes a movement called #BabesofMissguided. It’s a powerful marketing tool and a free advertising for the brand, brought to its full potential when promoted by the right influencers and followed by thousands of their fans.


5) Infrastructure


You don’t need to be a genius to understand that the world is shifting to cloud solutions. Sure, you might disagree and argue that your legacy systems are critical for your operation and that it is imperative to have control over data, security, servers etc.

But I’d like to challenge that. Many large companies have already migrated their email services to G-suite, Sendgrid or other cloud services. Isn’t it wonderful to have the emails infrastructure taken care by professionals and specialists? Why should you worry about your email or have a dedicated server?

The same rule applies to e-commerce platforms, CRM’s, ERP systems, etc.


Be different, don’t be boring – because these are unforgiving times!


In my opinion, bookstores such as Cultura, can use the approach above and get a better understanding of their customers and preferences through data. Based on that they can create different movements (e.g.: #Donateabook), collaborate with influencers, customers and craft unique experiences based on what customers need and desire, rather than using the one-size-fits-all approach.


Last but not least

If you can’t find inspiration within your industry, look outside of it. Be curious, be humble, ask questions, investigate. Have managers working side by side with the youngsters. Make them visit technology shows, watch speeches and talk to technology suppliers and companies alike.

The World is full of outstanding examples of companies that are successfully transforming the way they work and how they operate.

There is no doubt that Cultura bookstores will come out stronger of this crisis.
However, courage, curiosity and passionate people are required.


The Future of Fashion Product Photographers in E-commerce

The product photography industry has been subject to far-reaching changes in recent years. The rapid pace of this change is evident in every aspect of photography; just look at the number of startups offering innovative solutions for previously unrecognized problems in the fashion industry. Online retailers have access to diverse technology that is designed to automate different processes within the e-commerce chain. While all of this evokes nostalgia for the old days in many photographers, it also leads to higher productivity.

But let’s look at the specific changes that have occurred in the product photography chain for online retailers.


Smaller teams of in-house photographers

In previous years, companies hired larger teams of in-house photographers to do everything from editorial work to cataloging pictures to product photography. The introduction of new technology, however, causes companies to dismiss many photographers. This has pushed many industry representatives into becoming freelancers. The modern photographer is faced with a new challenge – to become more adept, to become nimbler, and to reinvent his role.


Focus on digital technology and automation

Advances in technology have been tremendous; there is no doubt about that. The in-house photography industry has benefited considerably from turning tables and robotic arms, for example. Other innovations that have modified the work of a typical studio manager include Virtual Catwalks, Mannequins for a 3D spin, services for outsourcing editing and retouching of product photography to name a few.

The reason for all of this is simple: providing higher efficiency for retailers. Considering the competitiveness of the industry, we can hardly blame them. Being successful in the marketplace requires being as swift and efficient as possible when it comes to the post-production and sales enablement process.

The speed of launching a product online is vital for a fashion player to have success in the marketplace.


Redefining of the role of the product photographer

As previously mentioned, technology enables automation, which in turn leads to a more marginal role of the product photographer. To cope with the new reality, photographers ought to broaden their skills. For example, additional work in editorial and cataloging photography or social media can provide a much-needed advantage.

Brands and retailers are likely to have fewer fixed employees due to the abundance of technological solutions available.

The trend for in-house studio brands is leaning towards relying on digital technicians with a keen eye for photography.

Digital technicians are likely to be under the supervision of photographers who possess an inherent understanding of lighting, colors, etc. However, in areas such as editorial photography and cataloging, photographers and art directors are indispensable as there is no realistic automated alternative on the market.


To Sum Up

As technology advances and, with it, higher levels of efficiency are brought into the marketplace, photographers and creatives will most likely have to reinvent the way they work.

If you are an e-commerce or a photography professional in the fashion industry, in your opinion, which types of newer technologies have the biggest impact on the fashion and e-commerce industry?


How do you see the future for creatives and photographers in the fashion industry?

Can we still trust non-tech people to make the right decision?

We are living in fascinating times, on the verge of a great transformation in our society.

If the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal implicating Facebook demonstrated anything of importance, it wasn’t that Facebook has a lot of ‘eyes in the sky’. Instead, the biggest insight was how clueless the congressmen interrogating Mark Zuckerberg were. They appeared to have no understanding of how his business is monetized.

We’ve reached a point in human development where we can no longer afford to have decision-makers, whether representing a private organisation or a government, who do not understand technology.


Get with the program

However, a fascinating theory – ‘The IT Mirror’ by Mariano Gomide de Faria – contradicts this.

Gomide de Faria believes that skillsets widely accepted to be the norm will become obsolete 20 years from now, the same way that typewriters disappeared with the arrival of personal computers.

If he is correct, and I believe he is, when my kids turn 23 and 25, they will both be able to code – or at least have a much better notion of programming than most people today.


Mirror images

The lack of technological savviness is what causes organisations and governments to be burdensome, bureaucratic and costly.

The IT Mirror proposes a new way to think about IT via an organisational chart. It is based on the notion of allocating a programmer alongside a business-specific individual.

For that matter, a CEO would have a respective IT Mirror chief executive peer, and so on and so forth. At first, this would be introduced at the highest level: the leadership of an organisation.


Qualitative future

The whole idea behind the proposal is to generate more nimbleness in the way decisions are made and what is best for the individual business units.

By doing so, companies are free to build autonomous groups, and it allows humongous gains in speed as well as in the ability to streamline processes.

While I’m not sure if governments are willing to take this step, I believe it is inevitable that society will take a stand and demand tech-savvy professionals backing up governments.

With that, our discussions and the way we question things will become way more qualitative as well.

Black Friday is coming, are you ready?

Last year’s Black Friday broke all previous records and retailers know the most important part of the year is coming up but what can they do to improve the results in Black Friday and Holiday season? For the past year, I have been talking about it with some of the most important online retailers in Europe and those were my learnings:


Mobile & Apps

There is no more obvious trend that using mobile for shopping. Here is some data:


  • Almost two-thirds of shoppers turned to mobile for their Black Friday shopping activities
  • 65% of online shoppers reportedly state they use mobile during Black Friday, 35% of all shoppers turn to apps
  • 58% of shoppers use their phone to compare prices
  • 45% use mobile to find coupons
  • Shoppers spend, on average,18x more time navigating on the app then comparing to a browser


Mobile has shown a steady increase in shopping activities for many years now, and the data shows it is not going away. For retailers and brands, the best thing about mobile trend is data showing that loyalty increases exponentially as users use mobile apps instead of a web browser for their shopping. That is because the app presents a cleaner and more intuitive navigation and gives an impression of a more secure checkout.



Customers will look at 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson or go to a specific website. It is crucial for retailers to implement a consistent strategy on inbound marketing and a multimedia content creation that is not just stating how awesome your company is. The idea here is to create a content that is useful whether or not the shopper ends up buying your product, for example:


  • Fashion Trends
  • Top 10 best picks
  • Food recipes
  • Product comparison
  • Unboxing videos
  • How-to videos


The goal is to add value to the customer’s experience. Of course, you should add a call-to-action including your brand and product, but this is secondary. The valuable content will drive the valuable traffic.

Shoppers will turn to your app at every step of the funnel, so stock your app with helpful content, such as easy-to-find user reviews or a price comparison guide.


Push Notification

The best way to attract people to an offer or a feature in your app is to send push notifications. When you have a great Black Friday deal in your app, you should communicate this via push notifications.

Marketers sent 2.7x as many mobile push notifications on Black Friday 2017. And users matched marketers’ enthusiasm, opening those push notifications 2.6x as often.


Shoppers Are More Likely to Opt-In During Black Friday

It has always been a challenge: to encourage app users to opt-in for push notifications. But the good news is that users are 40% more willing to opt-in push notifications during Black Friday. So your company should leverage this to increase your reach

So now that you know that the key to engaging users on mobile is push notifications… how do you get them to opt-in? Historically, this has been a struggle — on average, only 40 percent of users opt-in to push notifications. But there’s good news: half of the shoppers said they are likely to enable push notifications to learn about Black Friday deals.

At Biassa, we provide the tools and the knowledge to enable high-level executives of the retail and industry to build winning online strategies and implement digital transformation processes. Get in touch for more info:

The woman standing up to American tech giants

Amidst a growing debate on regulation of the tech giants, there is only one person in the world of politics who has actually made a stand against Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook –   Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner.

Margrethe Vestager is challenging the biggest companies in the world and shaking corporate America.


Among her accomplishments are:


  • Ordering Apple to pay 13 billion euros of unpaid taxes to Ireland
  • Fining Facebook 100 million euros for misleading the EU during a review on WhatsApp acquisition
  • Slapping a 2,5 billion euros fine against Google for allegedly abusing its search to favor their own online shops
  • Ordering Amazon to pay back 250 million euros of allegedly unpaid taxes to Luxembourg
  • Fining Qualcomm 1 billion euros for making illegal payments to Apple for exclusive use of their chips


Vestager is the only regulator in the world who has brought multiple enforcement actions against the major technology companies.


Unfair advantages of the giants

In a recent interview for Wired Magazine Vestager stated: “One of the things one should not misunderstand about Europe is that you are more than welcome to be successful. We don’t look at your flag, we look at what you bring, and if what you bring to the marketplace is something people like, you are more than welcome, but the thing is, that with success also comes responsibility.”

Here lies the problem: what are these tech giants really bringing to the market? Do customers and users have a full overview of the actual business the Big Four are operating?


Do users really understand what they are signing up to?


For example, on the one hand, Amazon offers the platform and fulfillment solutions for small and medium-sized retailers that otherwise would not have the access to tap into global markets, which is great for the smaller sellers. However, when Amazon taps into the sellers’ data, looking for trends, and then becomes a competitor of the smaller player, the scale plus the access to large sums of patient capital, makes Amazon unbeatable in any category they put their efforts into.

Margrethe Vestager has admitted that the EU has opened an investigation into Amazon to determine whether the usage of sellers’ data to create their own brands could be considered an unfair competition practice.

If you hold 90% of the marketplace, you should not misuse your dominant position, but using data to improve your services is a common practice, so when should it be illegal? Those are questions Margrethe Vestager is trying to answer.


What about China?

Could regulations in Western companies give an even bigger edge on Chinese companies?

Some argue that the dynamic between Western technology and Chinese technology is being affected by constant regulations of Western politicians.

We live in a democracy and our main goal is not to create the best technology as fast as possible but to create better societies, says Margrethe Vestager.  

However, the limited presence of Chinese tech in the EU explains the lack of enforcement actions against them so far.

In the light of the latest happenings on Facebook, and the Chinese espionage scandal, I am relieved to have law enforcement agencies that are actually able to understand the problem and take action.