2015: The year of the on-demand marketplace.

What do Uber, Bizzby & AirBnB all have in common?

I shared an image posted on Linkedin today. It claimed:

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.
Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content.
Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory.
AirBnB, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.

Not new news but what do they have in common?

They connect real people like you and me, with other you’s and me’s.

They’re a new marketplace.

One with no middlemen taking a cut, no expensive start-up costs or overheads, just facilitators.

Buyers like you and me love them because we get a better price and an easier experience.

Traditional competitors hate them because they’re changing the status quo, upsetting the apple cart, shaking up the market and stealing share as great swathes of customers adopt a new way of buying goods and services.

Like Uber, similar companies are cropping up all the time.

Rated People is a trade recommendation service on a mission to connect homeowners with the very best local tradesmen.

Bizzby is an on-demand services app connecting cleaners and other such service providers with busy people who need something done right now.

Fancy Hands is similar, providing a virtual personal assistant service for everything from restaurant booking to activity recommendations.

They’re creating an on-demand marketplace of self-selecting meritocracy. One where customer reviews push you to the top, or drop you off the bottom.

When selections are made on a combination of who’s available to serve you, how well they’re rated by other customers and ultimately what the price they’re charging is, what role does that leave for the brand? Is the ‘brand’ the marketplace or the service provider? If you get a bad cleaning service booked through Bizzby, do you blame the cleaner or does your perception of Bizzby go down? What scope is there for the cleaners to build a brand within that environment to differentiate on anything other than a purely functional basis?

As consumers, whilst we’re enjoying the simplicity, lower prices, transparency and numerous other benefits of these new marketplaces, it does seem there is a risk of overly commoditising numerous markets.


Will Rees-Hooper