I enjoyed your article, but none of the moats you cite are truly moats. Whether the “Rewards Programs”, “Subscriptions”, or “Physical Infrastructure” you suggest, none of these represent sustainable moats, per the conventional definition (emphasis mine):
Economic moat describes a company’s competitive advantage derived as a result of various business tactics that allow it to earn above-average profits for a sustainable period of time. Companies that obtain defensible competitive advantage from patents, cutting-edge technologies and other cost advantages can have a wide economic moat that curbs competition within their industry. Also, firms that enjoy strong economic moat tend to demonstrate solid financial performance and rising returns on capital over time. The most common sources of economic moat are cost advantages, switching costs, efficient scale, intangible assets and network effects.
I discussed all of this in “Scooters, Tech, and Traditional Transportation”:
There’s a real question as to the market structure of this scooter business: Is it a perfectly competitive industry or does it lend more toward the winner-take-all, first-mover-advantage dynamics that characterize today’s tech pseudo-monopolies? […]
Unlike the Web 2.0 startups discussed [above], “barriers-to-entry” do exist in today’s scooter industry: For example, it’s somewhat capital intensive; there are marginal costs; and, more importantly, municipalities are issuing only a handful of operating permits. That doesn’t mean the supply-side is scarce, because local governments provide for that aforementioned competitive quota in each geography; but it’s also not fully abundant, because, again, governments assure that competition is capped…
[T]here are graduated opportunities for differentiation, but that all said, from a strategic planning lens, it’s important to acknowledge that all of those are still weaker-form moats than Web 2.0 tech or ridesharing’s equivalents[.]
In that analysis, I discussed why the moats you proposed are not actually moats — as well as the real strategies for sustainable differentiation.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts…