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The sharing economy has emerged over the past decade to revolutionize travel and transportation. Is a similar disruption coming to retail? A new eMarketer report, “The Sharing Economy: How Uber and Other Upstarts Will Affect Retail,” investigates the potential.
The sharing economy doesn't have a standard definition, nor is it the only term used to explain this area. The peer-to-peer economy, the collaborative economy and the on-demand economy are all commonly used terms with slightly different but overlapping meanings. eMarketer uses the term “sharing economy” to mean services that link underutilized or shared assets—whether a product, time or skill—to people interested in access to that resource.
2015 research by Vision Critical and Crowd Companies looked at the broader collaborative economy, which included peer-to-peer exchanges such as Etsy and eBay, and found that 51% of US internet users polled had participated in a sharing economy service in 2015, up from 39% in 2014.
The breakout companies in the sharing economy have centered on a few industries. Companies such as Spotify, Uber and Airbnb have had a big impact on moving many consumers to sharing or renting assets in the entertainment and media industry, automotive and transportation, and hospitality and dining. But according to December 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, only 2% of US consumers had conducted a sharing economy transaction in retail.
It should be noted that PwC did not include exchanges of used goods, such as eBay, in its measure.
“Do I see businesses that are completely turning [retail] on its head? Not really,” said Tanner Hackett, co-founder and head of operations at deep-linking exchange Button. “Everything is trending towards more efficiency. This isn’t truly disruption; this is the Amazon effect. This is providing better prices, better service and more products. This is the natural evolution of things.”
eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.
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