Paul Greenberg outlines the rise of companies like Airbnb and Uber and wonders if collaborative consumption is the new online retail?


The rise and rise of the sharing economy continues to impress, as do the business models of companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Airtasker. Always nostalgic I think back to my experience with DealsDirect which is now over a decade old.

Whilst it true to say there was a thrill watching the growth of pure play retail, we knew we were involved in heavy infrastructure business.

Enormous warehouses, laden with products.

Containers of wares being unloaded daily into kilometres of pallet racking, and enormous trucks picking up thousands and thousands of packed parcels in metal cages.

What perhaps initially held the promise of a ‘virtual’ business, soon showed me that this was in fact a heavy infrastructure model, with the ever-elusive pursuit of ‘scale’ a challenge.

These are great businesses and my admiration for local examples like Ozsale, Catch of the Day, GraysOnline and many others, continues.

But the dynamic and iterative space of collaborative consumption holds the true promise of a virtual asset-lite but robust marketplace delivering the ultimate retail experience. Taking a surplus to need is not a new concept but our powerful connected technologies today bring this to life.


Originally published on Which-50. Reprinted with permission.

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