It’s easy to be cynical about the so-called sharing economy. I should know, as I frequently am.
But you don’t need to look far to find real examples of businesses that are shaking up the markets they enter, and in one case in particular, turning it inside out.
With its astronomical valuation, based on the 21st Century equivalent of magic beans (look .. there I go again being needlessly, and some might say unhelpfully, cynical), Uber has become one of the most well-known emergent brands of the last few years. From upscale taxi rides and discount vouchers, to an app that lets you track your driver as they approach, all the way through to violent demonstrations from incumbent cab drivers, the Uber story never goes away for long.
The premise that anyone with a car and some spare time can be a taxi driver is at the heart of the sharing economy philosophy – take something you have in surplus, and are not likely to use for commercial gain, and find someone who can make use of it.
Amazon is reportedly developing an app that ordinary everyday members of the public will be able to use to log on to a new kind of parcel delivery network, very similar to Uber’s new kind of taxi network. Got some free time? Go deliver some parcels – and get paid for it.
There are already businesses doing this, some of you may be yelling at the screen, both here in the UK and elsewhere.
I know. But they’re not Amazon. They don’t have Amazon’s network, connections, deep pockets and pied piper effect on the rest of the industry.
Watch this space, things could get interesting.
These are also interesting times for Maplin. The electronics retailer is now offering click-and-collect, thanks to iForce, which is great news if you’re ordering parts to build a fleet of delivery drones, for example.
We also take a look at the world of opportunities in other parts of, well, the world… China and Ireland, to be exact.
The Chinese government has relaxed foreign ownership restrictions on ecommerce businesses, and is introducing a series of tax incentives for cross-border Chinese ecomm players. Everyone knows China is serious about international trade and ecommerce in particular – this is more proof of precisely that. It could also herald more opportunities for UK carriers to forge formal partnerships with China Post, something the Chinese state postal carrier has already been looking into.
Closer to home, Orla Shiels, general manager of Parcel Motel – the locker network from Irish carrier Nightline – writes for us on the popularity of UK retailers among Irish online shoppers. The Irish are second only to the Brits for shopping online, and Irish ecommerce spend is growing faster than the equivalent in the UK. Yet shipping from the UK to Ireland offers shoppers a dearth of choice which could dent confidence and harm repeat business.
Elsewhere on eDelivery, we’re reminding you to get your skates on and grab an earlybird registration discount for EDC … you’ve got one week left before prices go up.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to eDelivery why don’t you embrace change and go and do that right now? You’ll get our weekly newsletter summarising the main stories we’ve covered, and we’ll keep you informed of other big announcements, but we won’t spam you – that’s not how we stroll. You’ll find details on that here.