Let me take an example. The tee shirts business. Three most important components are the supplier, the designer and the retailer. The supplier can not ask for a premium. Simply because he is manufacturing a commodity. There are bound to be many suppliers with similar or near similar offerings and only thing that all suppliers can compete on is the price. A retailer, might command premium if he is a large player and has a ready set of customers. Someone like, say Big Bazaar. But over a period of time, with Internet eliminating all kinds of middle men, a marketer would no longer need a retailer to sell his products. Cases in point being zappos (ok, zappos is a retailer), threadless and cafepress.On the other hand, if you are someone like Tantra or People Tree or Play Clan, you add value to a basic white tee shirt. You add a unique design and print that design. You dont sell just a tee shirt. You sell this design that no one else can do. And you thus ask for a premium. To compete with a Tantra, I wont need the supplier, I wont need the retailer but I would need a designer. Obviously I am assuming that I would be able to squeeze the suppliers and command terms to the retailers and create a fantastic online community (and a shop).
Tee shirt business is ok. What about travel business? Who will command a premium?
Travel chain has two components - service providers (airlines, railways) and agents (Traditional, OTA). Off the two, agents can only sell the inventory that service providers make available. And its a simple business where you add zilch value (online agents add value in the sense that they make available the inventory real time) and hence they cant command a premium. Moment an agent asks for a premium, the user would move on to the next agent. You compete on mindshare and again, cost!
What about HR consultancies? Petrol pumps? FMCG companies? Who do you think commands a premium? What to you guys think?