In baseball, double play is a defensive play where two players are put out. It turns out that the leading ecommerce companies like Amazon and Alibaba have such strategies in their businesses. Amazon runs an ecommerce operation, which largely loses money, but makes money via cloud computing services. In the world of Amazon, if it can destroy many brick and mortar retailers and force them to go online, it will have cloud services to sell to them. For Alibaba, its double play comes from its asset-light marketplace and the Ant Financial which processes payments across its ecosystems. Besides the commission for selling on Alibaba, Alibaba takes another cut for handling the payment. When you examine these companies, one thing is obvious: no one makes good money by running just an ecommerce operation; you need a double play to supplement it.
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