Surprise! A Wharton prof says the same thing that drives brick and mortar sales drives digital commerce: location, location, location.

In the physical world, our purchasing is limited by our geographic circumstances. In the digital world, we are unbound from the shackles of geography. The world is flat, we’ve been told: anyone with an Internet connection and a credit card can get anything at (almost) any time. Ordering online is the great equalizer—if you want artisanal coffee or extra-narrow shoes or a fisherman’s sweater hand-knit by a Danish craftsperson, you can get it with the click of a button. The Internet turns the world into a global all-access shopping mall: whether you’re ordering from Iowa City or New York City, the options are the same.

But even though we can get anything from anywhere, we don’t. Consider something as seemingly personal as brand preference. In study after study, blind taste test after blind taste test, most consumer food brands are shown to be virtually indistinguishable in terms of flavor. Research shows that even rabid fans, people who feel very, very strongly that Pepsi is too sweet and Coke is the drink of champions don’t have a preference when their are eyes closed. So where does the loyalty come from?

Read the full article on Fortune.