Home furnishings giant enters ‘gig economy’ with acquisition
Ikea Group has entered the booming market for on-demand services.
The home furnishings giant is acquiring TaskRabbit, an on-demand services platform company that connects customers with workers, called "taskers," that handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman repairs, and home improvements. The price of the transaction was not revealed.
Based in San Francisco, TaskRabbit will operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group. It will also continue to partner with other retailers and commercial partners.
Founded in 2008, TaskRabbit is regarded as one of the pioneers of the "gig economy." Over 60,000 independent workers use its platform.
For Ikea, the acquisition enables the company to give its customers online access to “freelancers” skilled in furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work, and home improvements, among other services. Equally important, it bolsters the retailer's defenses against Amazon, which debuted its own marketplace of service providers, Amazon Home Services, in 2015.
The deal, which is expected to close in October, stems from a pilot Ikea and TaskRabbit launched in November 2016. Through the partnership, Ikea offered furniture-assembly services by TaskRabbit’s workers to its customers.
“In a fast changing retail environment, we continuously strive to develop new and improved products and services to make our customers’ lives a little bit easier,” said Jesper Brodin, president and CEO of Ikea Group. “Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that. We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions.”
Ikea owns and operates 357 stores in 29 countries, an e-commerce business. TaskRabbit has a presence in 40 cities around the United States and in London.
"With Ikea Group ownership, TaskRabbit could realize even greater opportunities increasing earning potential of Taskers and connecting consumers to a wide range of affordable services," said Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit CEO.
Report: Walmart eyes same-day delivery in New York City
Walmart could be making another bold move in the online delivery game.
Speaking at an advertising industry event in New York City on Wednesday, Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S., said that he expects the chain to offer free, same-day delivery in New York City “very soon,” Bloomberg reported.
While the same-day deliveries are contained within New York City, the move sends a message to online rival Amazon, which offers same-day deliveries to Prime Now members who pay a subscription fee. Walmart and Jet already offer free two-day shipping for orders of $35 or more. This service also rivals Amazon Prime’s day delivery service, which also requires a membership fee.
Other companies are getting in on the same-day delivery game, including Target, which recently launched a pilot called Target Restock. Shoppers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region can order from more than 10,000 products, ranging from laundry detergent and paper towels to granola bars and coffee, and receive merchandise the same day. The service, available only to Target REDcard holders, comes with a flat fee of $4.99 per box.
Other retailers trying their hand at same-day delivery in limited markets include Office Depot, Best Buy, Macy’s and Schnucks.
Supermarket retailer to test curbside pickup
Publix Super Markets is ramping up its grocery delivery services.
Beginning Sept. 28, the supermarket chain will begin testing curbside grocery pickup at a store in Wesley Chapel, Florida, and another in Valrico, Florida. In addition, Publix's Metro-Atlanta stores will begin testing the service by the end of this year.
“We’ve had great success with Publix Delivery powered by Instacart, and the demand for online grocery services has continued to grow. So we’re excited to test Publix Curbside and learn more about how to best meet the evolving needs of our customers,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations.
Publix has been aggressively rolling out grocery delivery since July 2016. By the end of this year, Publix Delivery will be available from more than 90% of its stores.
Publix has 1,155 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.