Monday, April 10, 2017

Uber, Deliveroo and physical spaces

Uber, Airbnb, Deliveroo and others started off as marketplaces, connecting people who wanted services to people who could offer them, made possible (essentially) through the smartphone.

(Read Brad Stone's excellent book about Uber and Airbnb)

They operated through technology, in the same way that eBay and Etsy - also marketplaces - do.  No wasteful premises needed, just a simple connection between buyers and sellers.

Two stories last week show how this is changing.

First, it was announced that Deliveroo is opening some kitchen hubs that restaurants can share, so that they could offer delivery in places where they did not have, or could not afford to have, restaurants.

"European food delivery startup Deliveroo has today unveiled a new platform that enables restaurants of all sizes to open in new locations without committing to costly public premises.

With Deliveroo Editions, the London-headquartered company is putting its arsenal of delivery data to use through identifying customer demand and specific cuisine shortages in certain areas — it’s about spotting gaps in the market. Deliveroo then asks eateries, be they small independents or national chains, to sign up to its new kitchen-only delivery platform, though restaurants can also register their interest in being selected.

For restaurants looking to expand, this setup reduces the risk of setting up shop in expensive neighborhoods, with only the actual catering side of things to worry about. Deliveroo provides everything else in terms of infrastructure, including bespoke kitchens, local marketing support, software, and fleets of couriers."

A day or so later it was revealed that Uber is in talks to buy car parks near to airports in the UK, so that drivers have a space where they can wait (legally) for fares to request them.

"Uber is setting up dedicated car parking areas for its drivers close to Gatwick and City airports in London, steering away from rows with locals.

It's understood the ride-sharing startup will most likely lease space near the airports to offer drivers a location to wait for pick ups.

Uber drivers and other minicab drivers at Heathrow were last year provided with a waiting area with space for up to 800 cars in order to reduce congestion in surrounding areas."

I think this is the latest part of the 'online to offline' trend that we've seen over the past few years, including companies that started as pure tech companies, like Amazon, Google, Snapchat and others, producing physical devices, and opening up retail spaces.

I'm sure that one of the reasons Groupon lost its value and reputation was that it relied almost entirely on third parties for the experiences (it was impossible to vet all the fish pedicure places and day spas), and it makes sense for people to have far more control over the experience people have of their brand.
How long before Airbnb opens its own boutique hotel?

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