In the last few years the way that businesses interact with their consumers has changed immeasurably. Customer service has been supplemented by chatbots and some marketers now employ AR and VR to promote certain products; however, a more fundamental change has occurred in the way that products and services can be acquired, and that has come in the shape of the gig economy.
The rise of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo has opened up a whole new area of on-demand business which has positively benefited both those at the helm of these businesses and the customers who use the services. It can also be argued that the revolution has had an equal impact on the nature of employment as much as the services provided to customers; however, it has hardly been plain sailing for some businesses and finding the right means of implementing the technology is still a work in progress.
There has been a lot of coverage regarding the rise of the gig economy, and here we take a look at how it works and how digital innovation has allowed it to flourish.
What Is The Gig Economy?
The term gig economy refers to the industry wherein workers are employed on a non-contract basis and can be alerted to jobs when they are requested by customers. Whilst this type of non-contract work has always existed to a certain degree, and in digital terms eBay was one of the first exponents of this model, the advent of digital technology has enabled businesses to employ those looking for ad-hoc work.
In the US over the past 20 years the number of workers classified as independent contractors has increased by 27% with even more significant increases in specific areas such as the transportation industry. In the five years since its inception, Uber has amassed a colossal net worth of $60 billion, and although it has faced several controversies in that time, the root of its success is in its UX experience. The simplicity with which users can gain access to its services is what sets the app apart from other white label services.
The gig economy isn’t all about Uber and Deliveroo though, as the deliverability of this model has enabled many businesses to revisit the way workers are employed to deliver services or products. Consumers appear to be welcoming this change, as 42% have now used an on-demand service in this manner and a further 22% have offered a service using this model.
How Has Digital Technology Enabled Gig Economy Growth?
According to Neil Sholay, the Head of Digital at Oracle, one of the key factors in the emergence of businesses using a gig economy model to employ its workers has been improvement of “other people’s platforms”. Without a workforce that has access to a service that can provide them all the information needed to carry out a job whilst away from home or an office setting, companies like this would not exist.
The number of mobile users is predicted to reach over 5 billion by 2019, and mCommerce now accounts for $720 billion in annual sales. Reports also suggests users spend more time using smartphones than ever before, with 2015 seeing a 117% increase in time spent on mobile devices from 2014. These stats combined show that consumers have unprecedented access to smartphones and are spending more time than ever using them which means that the time is right for businesses using the gig economy model of service and employment to target consumers.
The immediacy of the service provided by most of the companies employing the gig economy model has meant that it has only been able to blossom with the advent of appropriate technologies and a consumer base fit to take advantage of it. There are currently a galaxy of apps offering services in a manner similar to the archetypal Uber and Deliveroo models; however, where the most successful apps have prospered has been down to a connate understanding of how to stand out from the crowd.
Focusing on the front end of the consumer journey has been key for all prosperous gig economy businesses, as have the advancements in digital payments and advanced analytics. The latter of these has had a particularly big impact as the information garnered from consumers has enabled businesses to directly refine structures more quickly and accurately.
The gig economy is still a relatively new way for business to be conducted, at least with a predominantly digital platform as its base, and for this reason, there have been some issues with how the technology has operated. However, it is clear that any business that chooses to move its mCommerce strategy towards the gig economy model can hope to reap the benefits of a system that provides a rapid response previously unparalleled in the history of consumer services.
The top priority for any company looking to thrive based on a gig economy model of employment has to consider two sides to its digital development: customer and employee. The ethos behind many companies using this model is to act as the intermediary between customer and service provider, and therefore it is crucial that this experience is seamless. Consumers will have little loyalty to a particular company if another can provide the same product or service in a more frugal or efficient manner.
What are your thoughts on the gig economy as an employer and as a consumer? How will the trend evolve in the future? Get in touch with us via social media and share your opinions.