How The Sharing Economy Is Changing The Way We Interact With Each Other
With the advent of social media prompting us to share our favorite photos, relationships, and locations, American’s feel comfortable sharing a breadth and depth of information. It was only a matter of time before technology companies invented a new hybrid business model that allows people to turn extra space, extra gas and extra time into extra cash.
The Sharing Economy first kicked into full swing with the citizen-taxi services Uber and Lyft, but some would even argue that Craigslist was the first company to allow people to connect with one another to sell and buy items on their own terms. This business model cut out merchants and traditional companies. Without the business overhead, people could get better prices and deals while selling their old things, listing apartments or even looking for labor. While it was free to post and browse, the simple format was the true winner. Going on Craigslist became quicker and easier than going to a pawnshop or antique store and soon the public was hooked.
Uber and Lyft capitalized on this development with easy to use applications that allowed people to summon a taxi with an application, rather than a raised hand. Even with an amateur taxi-driver behind the wheel, modern navigation applications like Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze have done away with the need for the encyclopedic map knowledge of taxi drivers. This allowed people to cut out the cab companies and pay for a ride with their debit or credit card on a convenient and secure application. The Uber and Lyft applications also allowed users to estimate the fares for their next journey. These advantages have allowed the taxi to burst into the 21st century. With their success, Uber has launched new products such as a food delivery service called Uber Eats, a taxi service for wheelchair users titled Uber Access, and Uber Helicopter service that runs short routes in cities such as Dubai, UAE and Nice, France. With new products arriving all the time, we will be sure to keep updating our Uber and Lyft apps to see what they dream up next.
While getting into the cars of strangers is no longer a taboo, we could have never predicted that it would become fashionable to stay with strangers on your next holiday. Airbnb has exploded with over 1.5 million homes, apartments and rooms listed in over 191 cities worldwide. By signing up you can become anyone’s houseguest on your next adventure and live like a local. You can also sign up to host overnight guests if you have a spare bedroom or guest house that is just getting dusty. People have flocked to the website hoping that their next business trip, holiday or trek around the world will give them a better sense of a new city.
While the hotel and taxi industries have been the main two shaken up by the advent of the sharing economy, new applications and companies that utilize a similar business model are now seeking to revolutionize more industries. For pet owners, Wag allows you to summon a dog walker to your home to take care of them when you are at the office, sick or just too tired to take him around the block. Rent the Runway allows women to rent anything from a stylish gown to a complete ensemble for a special occasion for an average of around $70. After the special occasion, just send it back and they will clean and repackage it for another prom, rehearsal dinner, brunch or sorority semi-formal. Even though consumers are not the providers in Rent the Runway’s business model, the principle is the same- save money by only paying for something when you need it.
Another application allows you to turn your home into a restaurant or visit other people’s home restaurants. BonAppetour is a website that allows you to sample authentic cuisine and feel right at home with one of their chefs. While this may not appeal to everyone, the success of other similar business models may just be what this concept needs in order to get off the ground.
While the sharing economy demands a lot of trust from consumers, savings and rewards await those who are willing to take a chance on new concepts and ideas. By utilizing companies that prompt consumers to use their skills for extra cash, we can all bring new and innovative spins on to products and industries we know well. However, it will be interesting to see how traditional business models coexist with these newcomers in the future.