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3C Webinar Top 10 Q&As

Recently, the Connected Commerce Council (3C) hosted a webinar attended by more than 1,000 small business leaders. 3C leadership, digital marketing experts and small business owners shared their grave concerns about how “anti-Big Tech” legislation being considered by Congress will hurt small businesses that use digital tools and services to operate and grow. 

Click here to watch a video recording of the webinar. 

More than 200 attendees submitted questions as they watched the webinar and shortly afterward. Here is our selection of the Top Ten Questions attendees submitted. If you have more questions after watching the webinar or reading this post, email 3C and we will get back to you. 

1. Which bills in Congress should small businesses pay attention to? Are there key provisions in the bills that are problems?

For small businesses, access to affordable, scalable, secure and easy-to-use digital tools is critical. Unfortunately, the following three bills would all have the same result –  making these tools and services less affordable, less scalable, less secure and much more difficult to use.

These bills would prohibit “self-preferencing” by large digital platforms, and also prohibit platforms from disadvantaging (e.g., by blocking interoperability) competitors’ products when they compete against the platforms’ products. 

Supporters argue that digital platforms have become too successful, so they should be required to disaggregate different features and break apart integrated services to create room for competitors of the individual products and services. The practical impacts of forced disintegration and forced interoperability will be disastrous for small businesses:

  • Google Search would no longer be permitted to “preference” Google Maps and Google Business Profiles, and would instead have to provide top-of-the page display space to Yelp, Bing Maps and TripAdvisor.
  • Amazon could no longer require Marketplace sellers to utilize Amazon warehouse and delivery services to qualify for Prime. (Amazon requires the use of its warehouse and services so it can fully control inventory and delivery and meet Prime delivery guarantees to customers.)
    • Forcibly eliminating the warehouse and delivery requirement will undermine Amazon’s ability to guarantee delivery times, so from that point forward Amazon Prime will no longer be available to Marketplaces sellers, only to Amazon Retail products.
  • H.R. 3826 – Platform Competition and Opportunity Act

In America, absent national security or other health/safety concern, any company can acquire another unless the government proves that the acquisition would harm competition. This bill reverses that analysis forcing digital platforms to prove the negative – that an acquisition will not diminish competition. 

Supporters argue that digital platforms have too frequently acquired potentially significant competitors so that the acquired companies don’t grow into strong competitors. They point to Facebook acquiring Instagram and Google acquiring DoubleClick. However, if platform acquisitions become automatically suspect and require explicit government approval, small companies will lose attractive buyers, prices to sell companies will diminish and investors will be less likely to fund startups.

2. Would the harms of these proposals only impact U.S. small businesses? 

The impacts will hurt all small businesses that operate with and benefit from large digital platforms and their services. 

  • Needless regulation will increase the platforms’ operating costs, which will prompt price increases that make small business services more expensive. (see our blog post: Antitrust: When You Change the Model, You Change the Math for American Small Businesses)   
  • Dis-aggregation of bundled services and forced integration with third parties will create needless inefficiencies (e.g., multiple logins), reduce product quality and efficiency (e.g., less data sharing), and create security risks (forced interoperability with third parties). 
  • Fewer acquisitions by platforms will slow innovations that could improve products and services. 

3. How is this going to affect Google Search, Business Profiles, Merchant Center, Ads and Shopping Campaigns, including Local Service Ads and Pay per Click (PPC)?

All of these services will inevitably be clunkier, less effective and more expensive. Imagine if Google Search could not favor Business Profiles, and instead must randomly generate top-of-search results from a rotating carousel that includes (for, e.g., restaurants) Yelp, TripAdvisor,, Apple Maps or Bing. Now your business will have to maintain all of those profiles because you don’t know which profile consumers will see in their search results. This is a hidden Congressional tax.

4. Is there a counter-proposal in the works that would address Congress’s concerns about “big tech” and not harm small businesses? 

No, because the express purpose of these bills’ supporters is to force “Big Tech” companies to get smaller, stop them from achieving greater success, and inhibit their integrated products and services from working well together.  All of these outcomes will reduce their scale, increase their costs, inhibit innovation and inevitably make their small business products and services more expensive and less effective.

5. How will these bills impact Amazon Prime, particularly for small sellers on Amazon Marketplace?

Consumers LOVE Amazon Prime – and they love Prime Sellers on the Marketplace because they know your products will be delivered just as quickly as items sold by Amazon. Congress doesn’t understand that Prime works only if small sellers use Amazon warehouses and delivery services, because only then can Amazon be assured (and responsible for) getting the goods to the consumer on time – hence fulfilling the 2-day, 1-day or same-day guarantee. If Amazon cannot “preference” its own warehouse and delivery services, then Prime will return to its roots and only products and offers from the Amazon Store (and not from the Marketplace) will qualify for Prime.

6. Does this affect any major social media platforms? 

Today these proposals are aimed at Facebook and Instagram, but it may only be a matter of time until TikTok, Snapchat and other platforms grow big enough to be targeted.

7. Do lawmakers understand that these bills will hurt rather than help small businesses?

No! That’s why you need to speak up and make your voice heard! 

Lawmakers hear every day from lobbyists and hired-gun experts that the digital platforms are monopolists which are hurting competition and consumers. But as small businesses, you know first hand that digital advertising, marketing and e-commerce services are more affordable and effective today than they have ever been, thanks largely to the biggest platforms. Lawmakers want to hear from small businesses and they pay extra attention if you are in their districts and states. Click here and we’ll help you speak out and be heard.

8. What is the timeline for when these bills will be discussed and passed?

These proposals have already been discussed in several hearings and all of these bills have been approved by at least one Committee or Subcommittee. There has been very little input from small businesses like yours, so it’s critical that more small businesses engage with Congress soon.

9. How can I help oppose these bills and make sure Congress understands small businesses’ concerns? 

Will Congress let us come to DC to share our small business personal stories? 

Are there certain messages that we should be sure to use when speaking with elected officials?

3C is happy to connect you with your Senators and Representatives in Washington so you can express your concerns about these bills – by email or in a virtual meeting with elected officials and their staff. We regularly help small businesses request and attend these meetings and we’re happy to do it for you! Click here to sign up!

10. This is an Awesome Meeting!!! How can we join 3C?

  • Click here to join:
  • Membership is free and includes access to our new online learning platform – 3C University – where you’ll find courses and resources to improve your digital skills and help your business grow.

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