IKEA UK CEO Gillian Drakeford on TaskRabbit acquisition – Business Insider

TaskRabbit provides Ikea with better product feedback. It’s a great credit to Ikea that they recognized this benefit of on-demand engagement with customers at this stage of the TaskRabbit acquisition.

“What we saw very clearly was that there were lots of people assembling IKEA furniture via TaskRabbit — IKEA experts,” Drakeford said.

“I met one of the Taskers who had been assembling a Hemnes Day Bed over a number of years and he could see the development in the product in order to reduce the assembly time. He was as passionate as many of our coworkers were.”

Source: IKEA UK CEO Gillian Drakeford on TaskRabbit acquisition – Business Insider

Why the on-demand economy is poised to ignite a new form of direct-selling

Let’s look at the trends that convince me that some form of direct-selling is essential to rebuilding trust on resilient foundation that supports local participation in the global value chain.

  • Mobile phones and logistics systems are bringing responsive supply chains to Main Street;
  • Retail space is becoming dear and, since marketing can begin online, physical space is expensive to advertise effectively in order to gain foot traffic;
  • Supply chains and customer experience are being radically reconfigured, freeing embedded expenses for other uses, such as sales compensation — brands can afford to establish local salesforces that were untenable only five years ago;
  • An individual salesperson using a phone or PC to input data can collect more relevant qualitative and quantitative information about customers than anonymous online interactions, as well as get useful next actions from marketer-assisted AI;
  • End-to-end attribution is possible when people take responsibility for relationships, keeping track of their commitments and using transparency to reinforce trust.

Pure online-only experience works for commodity products and services, but most forms of human interaction — from selling and handling delivery, installation, or returns, as well as building ongoing customer engagement to codesign more efficient products and services than exist today requires human contact. Technology must be augmented by human contact with people augmented with advanced logistics, machine-learning, and other automation. It’s why we founded Gig Economy Group.

Spurred by this comment on Fortune.com:

Brick-and-mortar retailers are already under attack by Amazon. Now, retailers must also worry about their wholesalers selling direct via the Internet. Retailers of tomorrow must find ways to replicate the customer experience that a direct seller can provide, and get critical feedback to suppliers so they can innovate and stay competitive. B2B suppliers will follow the customers and the money.

Source: Retailers Beware: More Companies Now Selling Direct

The Future of Snow Clearing Has Finally Arrived and SnoHub is Leading The Charge. | Markets Insider

Observation: Many on-demand services are purely local affairs. Snow removal scheduling using an app is an example of logistics percolating down to Main Street. There will not likely be a national snow-removal branded marketplace.

The app enables homeowners to simply request snow clearing service by tapping the app on their iPhone. Registration is done through the app for SnoHub will take no more than 10 minutes for both homeowners and contractors.

Source: The Future of Snow Clearing Has Finally Arrived and SnoHub is Leading The Charge. | Markets Insider

Tencent Leads $4 Billion Round In China’s On-Demand Local Services Firm Meituan-Dianping – China Money Network

Meituan-Dianping built its network on reviews and group-buying services and now aims to extend that to grovery and prepared food delivery. It’s a smart example of identifying adjacent markets discussed yesterday. The company’s raise from Tencent Holdings brings its $30 billion.

Established in 2015 through the merger of Meituan.com and Dianping.com, Meituan Dianping has expanded its businesses from the initial focuses of peer reviews and group buying. The company claims that it currently has 280 million annual active individual customers and three million active corporate customers on its platform. Meituan plans to use the latest proceeds to invest in artificial intelligence and unmanned delivering technologies to compete with food delivering firm Ele.me. Meituan’s food deliveri

Source: Tencent Leads $4 Billion Round In China’s On-Demand Local Services Firm Meituan-Dianping – China Money Network

Alphabet’s CapitalG Leads $1 Billion Round in Lyft — Lyft Blog

Lyft adds $1 billion, bringing the total raised to $3.6 billion at an $11 billion valuation. Congrats to Lyft on gaining access to Google parent Alphabet’s Waymo automated car technology.

Today we’re happy to announce CapitalG — Alphabet’s growth investment fund — is leading a $1 billion financing round in Lyft. This brings Lyft’s post-money valuation to $11 billion. We’re also excited to work with CapitalG Partner David Lawee, who is joining Lyft’s Board.

Source: Alphabet’s CapitalG Leads $1 Billion Round in Lyft — Lyft Blog

Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade — Freelancing In America: 2017

There is much useful information to mine from the Upwork/Freelancers Union Freelancing In America: 2017 survey, conducted by Edelman Intelligence, with that caveat that this is industry-supporting research.

The concern over healthcare, savings, and retirement services expressed by freelancers remains the psychological barrier to people’s embrace of the on-demand economy. Currently, it still looks like many people grudgingly accept that they must freelance.

Most notable findings reveal:

  • Freelancers are better prepared for the future – As work changes, 54 percent of the U.S. workforce said they’re not very confident that work they do will exist in 20 years. Reskilling is therefore critical. 55 percent of freelancers participated in skill-related education in the last six months versus only 30 percent of non-freelancers.

  • The majority of the U.S. workforce will soon freelance – At its current growth rate, we will reach this milestone by 2027.

  • People are increasingly freelancing by choice – Asked whether they started freelancing more by choice or necessity, 63 percent of freelancers said by choice — up 10 points (from 53 percent) since 2014.

  • Stability is being redefined – Freelancers increasingly think that having a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than one employer (63 percent agree, up 10 points since 2016) and have an average of 4.5 clients per month.

  • While finances are a challenge for all, freelancers experience a unique concern — income predictability. The study found that, with the ebbs and flows of freelancing, full-time freelancers dip into savings more often (63 percent at least once per month versus 20 percent of full-time non-freelancers).

Source: Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing, annual “Freelancing in America” study finds | Press, News & Media Coverage

Looking past adjacent markets to new business value

This facile argument from Magento is correct, but needs amplification:

Adjacencies are not simply parts of the supply chain that can be consolidated and eliminated — though, in this case, Ikea is adding a layer of fulfillment, delivery, and assembly. Businesses with a solid trust relationship with consumers can expand into new, even largely unrelated lines of business with deliberation, especially deliberation that includes the customers. Finding new value isn’t merely identifying an “uberizable” service, it also requires rethinking the customer experience of the existing brand.

Early days, remember it is early in the on-demand evolution. Uber is not the model to end all business models. In fact, TaskRabbit went to great lengths not to behave like Uber toward workers.

The point of the IKEA example is that companies need to find natural adjacencies that enhance the customer experience. What opportunities do you see in your business to uberize your customer experience? How quickly can you augment, adjust or rethink your customer experience? These will be the defining questions for merchants in the next 12-18 months.

Source: Ikea and Task Rabbit: What can we learn? | Magento

Volvo changing Polestar to electric car brand to compete with Tesla – Business Insider

Volvo joins the car-on-demand business, offering its exclusive Polestar model as a subscription service.

The first vehicle — called a “halo for the future Polestar brand” by Volvo — will be dubbed “Polestar 1″ and be a gas-electric hybrid two-door cranking out 600 horsepower.”A maximum of 500 cars per year will be built,” Volvo said, adding that all “cars will be offered on a subscription basis, with customers benefitting from the convenience of a single, all-inclusive payment that can be topped up by additional on-demand services if required.”

Source: Volvo changing Polestar to electric car brand to compete with Tesla – Business Insider

Uber-SoftBank deal “very likely” to be finalized in the next week | TechCrunch

Despite Arrianna Huffington’s confidence a deal will get done between Uber and SoftBank, the language here clearly demonstrates SoftBank is in the proverbial driver’s seat. No price and a deal within a week suggests the deal is tentative at best, and that it is SoftBank that will set the price. The mention of a roll-up of global ridesharing companies confirms SoftBank is leading the aggregation strategy, because: 1.) SoftBank has positions in China’s Didi Chuxing (to which Uber ceded the Chinese market), Brazil’s 99, Ola in India, and Grab in Southeast Asia, and; 2.) SoftBank is already talking about its second Vision Fund, the first of which raised $93 billion.

Uber is still “waiting on what’s going to transpire in terms of the price,” said Huffington. She added that having SoftBank “on your cap table is very important when they’re also investing in so many of our competitors around the world.” Implying that there could be more acquisitions in ridesharing, she said to “expect to see some consolidation.”

Source: Uber-SoftBank deal “very likely” to be finalized in the next week | TechCrunch

Airtasker raises $33 million for UK expansion | ACS

“Tasks” have the ring of “commodity,” don’t they? They sound easy to quantify and deliver. Money is pouring into the task market following Ikea’s purchase of TaskRabbit last month, as investors seek a share of the generic household worker revenue anticipated to migrate to on-demand. However, the tasker business appears to lean heavily on a branded and defined set of services, a la Ikea’s need for furniture assembly to extend its delivery business.

Will every task business be acquired by a brand? If so, how does a task company maintain a significant difference in its services while providing the wide variety of jobs that taskers need to a earn a living? Task-job hopping throughout the day requires another multi-network coordination infrastructure.

The start-up raised $22 million last year, but co-founder and CEO Tim Fung said this latest round was necessary to facilitate Airtasker’s first international expansion into the UK. “Our research indicates UK customers share similar attitudes to Australians when it comes to trust in the community and getting things done. London obviously provides massive urban scale and hasn’t seen as many potentially unsustainable vertical service companies compared to say New York or Shanghai,” Fung said

Source: Airtasker raises $33 million for UK expansion | Information Age | ACS