Digital Marketplaces Draw Gig Economy Workers Across Verticals

Gig Economy

The gig economy is a formidable source of employment – and it’s not full of just Uber and Lyft drivers. There are gig workers in all sorts of verticals, from arts and design to repair and installation. Some workers assemble furniture for their clients, while others produce handmade art and designs.

To connect gig workers with jobs, digital marketplaces have taken root in various verticals. According to a report, nearly 60 percent of gig workers found their jobs via one of these platforms, which provide leads in near real time.

In all, 33.8 percent of the U.S. workforce participated in the gig economy in the second quarter of this year, according to the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index. At the same time, gig work is more than simply side hustle: 47 percent of gig workers held full-time jobs in the second quarter.

Take a look at how different occupations use digital marketplaces in this roundup:

Half of the full-time gig workers in transportation and materials moving use marketplaces. Roadie, in particular, built up a base of engaged drivers who are available in all the places they’re needed, all the time. To use the service, drivers can download the app from the App Store or Google Play and sign up to receive gig suggestions based on their patterns and routes. They’re “always on” in that a request could come at any time, but the app uses data science to put the right opportunities in front of the driver – and the driver always has the option to not accept a gig. Cost is calculated by size and distance, while weight is irrelevant and there are no fuel surcharges. For instance, a bowling ball weighs a lot more than a box of feathers, but both could fit in the front seat of a car, so why should one cost more to transport than the other?

Roughly four in ten – or 43 percent – of arts, design, entertainment, sports and media full-time gig workers use marketplaces. To that end, Amazon is expanding its Handmade program with support for event-specific gift shops, according to news from CNBC last year. Announced last October, the gift shops cater to occasions like weddings and Halloween. The Amazon Handmade platform was launched in 2015 as a microsite that sells handcrafted goods to consumers in 30 countries. Originally specializing in jewelry, stationery and party supplies, the eCommerce platform has recently begun offering products in other categories, such as clothing, shoes and pet supplies. “Every item on Amazon Handmade has a story behind it — and after hearing from customers and artisans, we are thrilled to make gift shopping an experience they will look forward to,” Katie Harnetiaux, an Amazon Handmade spokeswoman, said in a press release at the time.

More than half – or 56 percent – of installation, maintenance and repair full-time gig workers use marketplaces. And those workers might be assembling that Malm bed frame or Hemnes bookcase: TaskRabbit, the contract labor marketplace startup known and loved within the gig economy, was recently scooped up by Swedish home goods giant IKEA last year. The startup helps freelance workers find one-time gigs to perform — anything from handyman jobs to movers to assistants. The smaller startup is not the only one benefiting from this agreement: IKEA has been looking for ways to boost its digital customer service capabilities, as Amazon and other digital-first rivals are stepping up their game in terms of home goods and installation.

Forty-eight percent of education, training and library full-time gig workers use marketplaces. TakeLessons, in particular, delivers a similar promise as Fiverr, but specifically for teachers and tutors. Parents can book help for their kids in algebra, chemistry or writing. Amateur coders can learn HTML and web design. Crafters pick up skills like knitting, stained glass or calligraphy. Hobbyists study astrology, belly dancing, chess or gardening. Recent immigrants learn English, while travelers study French and Japanese. Budding musicians pick up the mandolin, oboe, bagpipes or ukulele. Teachers decide how much work they want to accept, when and where, then they set their price and the platform does the rest. TakeLessons markets the business, handles booking, and processes billing and payments, so teachers can focus on teaching.

And 51 percent of food preparation and serving full-time gig workers use marketplaces. Jitjatjo, in particular, is an intelligently matched, temporary staffing app that provides many of the top restaurants, bars, venues and caterers with coverage for last-minute call outs and unexpected demand fluctuations within seconds. The service aims to provide front and back of house staff on-site to work a shift within an hour’s notice, or can be booked up to two months in advance. Clients enter their staffing needs into the app, and the Jitjatjo platform sources the best available talent in under 30 seconds. Clients are updated in real time on the progress of their booking and the location of their talent, and can communicate using the live chat feature before and after they arrive on-site. To reduce the burden for managers, Jitjatjo also handles all the HR responsibilities, including interviews, background checks, tax forms, performance reviews, timekeeping and payroll.

In terms of marketplaces, 55 percent of gig workers have said they used one platform primarily to source those leads. As the nature of the work and skills required becomes more specialized, workers used multiple platforms to source their leads. How will workers from different verticals turn to digital marketplaces for leads in the future? Stay tuned for a future report.