The shopping centres of the 20th century have slowly decayed. The Internet has radically transformed how we shop, and how producers and consumers are able to connect. Indeed, with the reach and rapid scaleability of the internet, it is conceivable that retailing in 50 years’ time will become more granular, as communities seek to satisfy their everyday needs locally, and consumers again want to touch and smell real food.
Some questions to think about:
- Are current disaggregated supply chains the only – let alone the most effective – way of organising our affairs?
- Can communities reconfigure supply chains by using the internet to achieve a form of vertical integration without compromising the independence of small-medium scale producers? Can we achieve scale economies without forfeiting the “beauty” of small?
- Haven’t aggregated supply chains led to issues of price fixing and lack of competition in the past?
- With scarcity of space, underpinned by concerns about the impact of broad hectare farming on fragile ecologies, can we produce food by “going up” as well?
- Do current supermarkets do enough for local communities to warrant the “social license” granted to them by restrictive land-use regimes?