Digital networks allow markets to operate with much greater fluidity in that:
information on products is easier to gather. Consequently, the consumer is able to compare a larger number of available items and can also gather information very rapidly about the launching of new products, which makes markets more dynamic and more reactive;
for a given product, prices can be compared very easily. Search engines can already provide suppliers’ addresses, classified according to what they offer in terms of price and sales conditions. They will be able to extend this assistance towards more qualitative comparisons similar to that of a hotel guide containing subjective information on a town’s restaurants and accommodation;
it will be possible for new types of trade to be developed, for example sales by auction for second-hand goods or products not commonly found on the market;
more generally, information on the market and the search for better purchasing conditions will progressively be performed by software (negotiating agents) responsible for carrying out transactions. In this case, it is possible to imagine that complex contracts will be negotiated, taking all the factors of the vendor/purchaser relationship into account (credit, commitment to after-sales service, maintenance, hot-line service, long-term commitment between purchaser and supplier, etc.).
On the other hand, networks may not be sufficient to create pure and perfect markets. Trade will undoubtedly be more fluid, but companies will be able to utilize digital networks to define highly focused product differentiation and to carry out one-to-one marketing.16
Finally, greater market fluidity will possibly:
accelerate the displacement of value towards demand monitoring, i.e. towards intermediaries capable of detecting, organizing, stabilizing and controlling the customer base;
consolidate temporary advantages into long-term dominant positions. On a fluid market, a minor discrepancy in price or service quality is enough for demand to concentrate on the best vendor. A slight or temporary advantage will then be sufficient to create a permanent monopoly (a sort of “winner-take-all" effect).