Retail

How Digital Marketplaces Within The Retail Ecosystem Are Gig Economy Portals

Gig Economy

To take advantage of the freedom that the freelance lifestyle affords, workers with all sorts of talents and goals are tapping into the gig economy. These workers are completing tasks in order to fuel their passions or simply to provide supplementary income. Either way, many of these workers are tapping into digital marketplaces in order to come across their next gigs.

In fact, the share of gig workers finding work through digital marketplaces has been on the uptick. According to the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index, the share of workers using this channel in their search for gigs rose from 59 percent in the second quarter of 2018 to 62.2 percent in the third quarter. That was the highest level that the index has measured.

Beyond providing a source for jobs, digital marketplaces often have specialties — that is, they are typically focused on particular job types or industries such as food delivery or transportation (i.e. rideshares). These are some of the ways that gig workers are using these channels in order to tap into various verticals of that the gig economy offers:

Almost three in 10 gig workers — or 29.1 percent — use job marketplaces. The Fiverr marketplace, for instance, lists millions of gigs from more than 200 countries across the globe in more than 100 categories. Fiverr Global Head of Community Brent Messenger told PYMNTS.com in a previous interview that it is the largest marketplace on the planet for finding skilled freelance work. And, while Fiverr got its start with gigs for $5, the platform has since evolved. Messenger said, “Today, there are still $5.00 jobs on Fiverr, but that is far from the core of the business. We see people selling skills for $10,000 on the platform.” Sellers add their services to catalogue, scope out the job and indicate how much they wish to charge for it. A buyer, in turn, adds that service to their cart and checks out, just as if they were buying a product.

A little under 15 percent — or 14.6 percent — of gig workers use digital delivery service marketplaces. Postmates, as one example, links 150,000 couriers to 25,000 merchant partners to have goods delivered on demand, per a report last year. According to the survey released at the time, those couriers earned about $216.8 million last year and take in an average hourly rate of $18.32. And, while the company delivers food, it also offers customers electronics, office supplies, hardware and a variety of goods. In all, the firm reportedly pushes to get all deliveries into the hands of its customers within one hour of ordering. At the same time, it was reported earlier this month that Postmates notched $100 million in funding to bring the company’s valuation to $1.85 billion.

More than 12 percent — or 12.4 percent — of gig workers use digital food marketplaces. Uber Eats, which currently covers more than half of the U.S. population, has reportedly been successful even in places where Uber does not operate its ride-hailing business or has a small presence. Uber’s Head of U.S. Cities for Uber Eats Ana Mahony said, per reports, that the company was able to “successfully introduce the Uber brand to the marketplace through Eats,” as 40 percent of its new Eats customers are new to Uber. And, in April, it was reported that the offering was the fastest-growing meal delivery service in the U.S. and took in as much new customer revenue as mobile order rival Grubhub. “Uber is really evolving into a platform brand where we are moving very many different types of goods and services, and people, from point A to point B,” Mahony said.

And 6 percent of gig workers use digital social network marketplaces. And social media platforms have expanded their offering in recent times: Last year, Facebook made thousands of home services professionals available through its platform. That is, the company launched a new feature designed to make it easier for users to find contractors, plumbers and house cleaners and carpenters that are rated and vetted. The effort came with the help of multiple different websites that specialize in home services. Facebook Marketplace Product Manager Bowen Pan said, “by partnering with Handy, HomeAdvisor and Porch, people will now have a place on Marketplace to find the right professional to help with their next home project.”

More than 5 percent — or 5.2 percent — of gig workers use digital transportation marketplaces. Drivers, too, can earn tips through these platforms: Uber, the ride-hailing company, was said in June to have facilitated more than $600 million of payments in the form of tips to its drivers since launching its in-app tipping service for drivers in 2017. And, in May, it rolled out mid-trip ratings and tips, and that has driven a 30 percent increase in tipping, according to Uber Product Manager Dhruv Tyagi. At the same time, it was reported that Lyft hit $500 million in tips facilitated in April. And it was said that its average tips increased by close to 8 percent last year, compared to the year earlier at the time. Lyft, noted the report, is operating in fewer markets than Uber: While Lyft is in the U.S. as well as Canada, Uber has operations around the globe.

From odd jobs to delivery and ridesharing services, workers are tapping into the gig economy in many different ways. And, with the help of digital platforms, these workers have the opportunity to pay bills between jobs, polish their résumés or just simply enjoy the freedom of working in the gig economy.

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