23. October 2017 / Permalink / Short URL
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Why Ikea bought TaskRabbit

IKEA announced that it would buy task rabbit, an online platform for hiring individuals to perform simple tasks. So why would a furniture company buy an online platform for intermediating simple services?

Swedish furnishing retailer IKEA has risen to become a global household name. While the big mac index is a rather well known measure to globally compare prices it less known that the average number of IKEA products per household is used as part of well-established globalization indices.

On Septermber 28, 2017 IKEA signed a conditional agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in TaskRabbit Inc., an on-demand services platform company. Currently, TaskRabbit operates in the United States and London. So why would the largest company in the furniture industry acquire a gig economy start-up in the labor-crowdsourcing category such as TaskRabbit?

(r)pixabay mastrminda

This is especially interesting in the light of the fact that once the self-assembling of IKEA furniture was once a key component of the business model of IKEA. Letting customers be part of the production process was considered revolutionary.

This is clearly not a standard example complementarity. It would have been much more typical to acquire an industry competitor in an effort to increase market share and drive supply-side synergies such as economies of scale or scope.

Jesper Brodin, IKEA’s chief executive stated in a press release “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. Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that.”

The on-demand assembling services that could be provided by TaskRabbit for IKEA customers complete the theme of buying furniture. One the one hand, this moves IKEA closer to more traditional furnishing retailers which sell already assembled furniture, one the other hand on-demand services provided by a player of the gig economy matches very well with IKEA`s innovative image.

Julia K. de Groote
Julia K. de Groote
conducts research on thematic thinking at the University of Bern (Bern, Switzerland) and is author of "Using Thematic Thinking to Achieve Business Success, Growth, and Innovation".

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