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Ikea joins gig economy with acquisition of TaskRabbit

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Facing competition from Amazon Home Services, which offers to take care of fast delivery and cheap assembly of homewares, Ikea has purchased the chore-delegating service TaskRabbit for an undisclosed figure.

Flat-pack furniture is, by its very design, easy to assemble. However, if you cannot or will not assemble it yourself but do not want to pay somebody else an excessive amount of money to do it for you, you may be in luck.

According to Ikea, it has been testing chore-delegation service TaskRabbit in its London stores since 2016 and is now preparing to expand the service to other UK stores, as well as to stores in the US.

TaskRabbit, a home-services finder, fits the sharing economy or gig economy model epitomised by the likes of Uber and Airbnb. It matches handymen and handywomen (“Taskers”) with local people who require tasks to be completed around their homes. According to a TED talk by Rachel Botsman, titled “The currency of the new economy is trust”, the most commonly requested task on TaskRabbit is the assembly of Ikea furniture.

In recent years, Ikea has begun offering assembly services, although these services cannot compete with the cheap, on-demand labour on offer elsewhere.

“We need to develop the business faster and in a more flexible way,” Jesper Brodin, CEO of Ikea, said in a statement. “An acquisition of TaskRabbit would be an exciting leap in this transformation.”

According to Ikea, TaskRabbit will operate as an independent subsidiary under Ikea and may continue to establish new partnerships.

In March 2015, TaskRabbit announced a collaboration with Amazon, whereby Amazon Home Services customers were able to hire Taskers for odd jobs. When customers purchase items online, they are offered the option to pick a Tasker to assist with its installation.

As Amazon and other tech-savvy businesses have invested in on-demand services to maximise efficiency for customers, Ikea - with its DIY ethos - has struggled with slowing growth. The purchase of TaskRabbit will allow IKEA to deliver a more complete and competitively-priced service, providing not just the furniture itself, but also delivery and assembly in customers’ own homes.

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