http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/ikea-moves-into-gig-economy-with-purchase-of-taskrabbit/article/503769

Ikea moves into gig economy with purchase of TaskRabbit

Posted Sep 29, 2017 by James Walker
Ikea has acquired on-demand contract labour service TaskRabbit in a move which will see the retailer enter the gig economy. TaskRabbit lets users hire people to complete tasks for them, including furniture assembly. It expands Ikea's digital presence.
An IKEA store in the city of Vaesteraas  about 100 km west of Stockholm on August 10  2015
An IKEA store in the city of Vaesteraas, about 100 km west of Stockholm on August 10, 2015
Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP/File
Ikea announced the agreement in a press statement today. The company said the arrangement will enable Ikea customers to directly access services offered by "Taskers" on TaskRabbit's platform. Users could hire people to help them move new Ikea purchases to their home or assist in building complex pieces of furniture.
TaskRabbit currently has around 60,000 freelance workers listed on its platform. The company is one of the best-known members of the "gig economy" where individuals are directly connected to each other.
TaskRabbit provides a service that makes it easier to find handymen, construction aids and movers, without having to hire a commercial firm. The company already offers an Ikea furniture assembly service as part of a UK-based pilot program with the retailer.
The acquisition is a step forward for Ikea's digital strategy. The company has become an active supporter of emerging technologies, announcing several initiatives designed to futureproof its business. This month, Ikea became one of the first retailers to offer an augmented reality app through Apple's ARKit platform. The retailer is aiming to follow its customers as they try out new tech.
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With demand for "gig" providers growing, acquiring TaskRabbit gives Ikea a foothold in an emerging area of the services market. As more shopping takes place online, physical stores are having to adapt their strategies to stay relevant. Offering convenience services through platforms like TaskRabbit could be one way for retailers to differentiate their brand.
"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, IKEA Group President and CEO. "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 to meet the needs of today’s customer."
Ikea hasn't announced how much it's paying to acquire TaskRabbit. Recode reports the start-up has raised around $50 million in funding since it launched nine years ago. The firm is profitable and was preparing to raise another round of funding from several venture firm investors.
The deal with Ikea will be completed next month. TaskRabbit will retain all its current staff and leaders, including CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot. Under the terms of the arrangement, TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent company. It'll remain headquartered in San Francisco and will be free to pursue partnerships with other retailers.