What’s one of the biggest shifts that smartphones and our constant connectivity have made possible? More people are selling their assets or time, while others buy those assets to make their own lives simpler, more comfortable, or in other ways to improve them.
The sharing economy is changing the rules of business. But to what extent, how, and what are the opportunities for entrepreneurs? Let’s find out.
How is the sharing economy changing business?
You know who the big winners are. Businesses like Airbnb (renting) and Uber (transportation) have rapidly changed how we use our assets and property, and what assets we decide to buy.
As Dean Baker writes in The Guardian: “The good thing about the sharing economy is that it facilitates the use of underutilized resources. There are millions of people with houses or apartments that have rooms sitting empty, and Airbnb allows them to profit from these empty rooms.”
In fact, studies show that almost one in two already uses sharing services while one in four offers products and services themselves.
In other words: The sharing economy is helping us create more value with the assets we own and get easier and often cheaper access to the assets we need. Far from all industries have been disrupted by the sharing economy and so we’re bound to see a growing number of success stories.
But what does a successful sharing economy platform look like? Here’s what you need to know.
What does a successful sharing economy platform look like?
A successful sharing economy platform meets five criteria. These are:
1. Reciprocal economic value
First, successful sharing economy platforms create reciprocal economic value between the owner of an asset and the user of that asset. This means that a sharing economy platform is or has the potential to be revenue-generating. However, not all sharing economy transactions are monetary. Even platforms that enable other types of transactions (think: gifts) have the potential to build revenue streams.
A successful sharing economy platform requires that the services or goods are visible and accessible on online platforms. For example, on a site like eBay, you list products and their availability is updated in real time. The same goes for things like homes (Airbnb or HomeAway) and even luxury fashion goods (Vestiaire Collective).
3. Utilizing the idling capacity of assets
The idea of many sharing economy platforms is to use the “idling capacity” of assets. Assets, like clothes, books, cars, houses, and even our time, aren’t used as much as they could be. The sharing economy enables that usage by offering “idle” assets to a market that needs and wants that asset, which creates value for both the asset owner and the asset user.
4. Community is at the core
The sharing economy goes beyond simple transactions and supply and demand. A sharing economy platform is built around a community with similar interests. And this community interacts through social media, it cooperates, and its members trust each other.
5. Less ownership
Finally, a sharing economy platform is, as the name says, all about sharing assets. The need to own these assets decreases as goods become services. For example, the ease of use, practicality, price, and community are all factors that make the need to own a car less obvious if you use a service like Zipcar.
What impact will the sharing economy have in the future?
Most of the biggest sharing economy players today have only been around for around 10 years. AirBnB was founded in 2008 and Uber in 2009. But change happens slowly. For example, it takes time for legislation to catch up. Plus, some industries are still dominated by larger brands.
Because of how practical the sharing economy is, the possibilities it offers, and overall sustainability trends, the sharing economy has a bright future ahead. Plus, there are still several industries where the sharing economy has the power to disrupt. A few of them are:
Most developed countries have a growing aging population. And, most countries struggle with at least some inefficiencies when it comes to their healthcare systems. With the help of sharing economy services, which make healthcare less costly and more effective, healthcare is at the forefront of the sharing economy. For example, remote care where available doctors are matched with patients is getting increasingly popular. Global data collaboration tools like 23andMe can mean faster genomic research and disease outbreaks detection.
Next, education is an area that is ‘broken’ in many developed countries. And alternative services and resources keep disrupting the industry. Think: Coursera, General Assembly, Skillshare, and Udemy.
#3: Experiences and leisure activities
The Airbnb service Experiences is already disrupting the tourism industry. Anyone can sign up for the service and offer their own experience- be it a guided tour of their hometown, a cooking class, or a photography session.
People pool together for insurances. For example, Friendsurance connects people for payouts on consumer electronics and household claims.
With services like Kickstarter, you can quickly get your project financed. And with platforms like GoFundMe, supporting community members in need is easier than ever.
Are you going to jump at the chance?
There you have it: The sharing economy is changing the rules of business.
While there are established actors out there, the sharing economy is relatively new. Thanks to the benefits it offers, there are still a lot of opportunities to disrupt.
Excited to get started building your own sharing marketplace? Try Kreezalid free for 14 days and build your marketplace with a few simple clicks.
Over to you:
Are you going to jump at the chance? Let me know in the comment section below what sharing economy platform you’re planning to create.
Author Bio: Thomas from Kreezalid.