How Uber and Airbnb are changing Retail

Uber and Airbnb are changing customer’s expectations of retailers. But not in the way you might think…



I went to a conference recently, a gathering of professional eBay sellers and largely online retailers in Australia. And I was lucky enough to be involved in one especially fascinating conversation.

I group of eBay sellers were discussing the change in their customers’ attitudes since the widespread adoption of Uber and Airbnb. Because people who bought from eBay used to judge eBay sellers against big corporate retailers. They expected the same level of service. Professional photography, perfect packaging, never out of stock

Today, those same people hail taxicabs on Uber and book room rentals with Airbnb. And those cabs sometimes don’t turn up or get stuck in traffic. Those rooms sometimes don’t exactly match the pictures or smell of pets.

And the eBay sellers loved it. Our customers are getting so much friendlier, they said. But now our stories are more important. Who we are and why we do this.

And that’s interesting to me. Maybe we’re getting to the stage where technology is a given, people are more forgiving of people, but we want to buy a story.

Today’s customer wants the why, not the how.

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