Saturday, November 01, 2014

Illicit e-commerce: The Amazons of the dark net | The Economist

The invisible hand in a mostly invisible market

"High ratings are sellers’ lifeblood. Reputation is crucial when clients know they cannot fall back on small-claims courts or arbitration. “It’s the ultimate irony: a den of thieves who don’t know each other but need to trust each other,” says a researcher with the DCA who requested anonymity for reasons of security.

As drug sales move online, power is shifting to buyers. The big markets’ customer service and marketing strategies increasingly resemble those of legitimate retailers. They are quick to apologise for technical glitches. Two-for-one specials, loyalty discounts and promotional campaigns are common (on Smoke Weed Day, say). Other methods borrowed from the corporate world include mission statements, terms and conditions, and money-back guarantees. “It has become so prosaic it could be shoes,” says James Martin, author of “Drugs on the Dark Net”."
Illicit e-commerce: The Amazons of the dark net | The Economist
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