Peer-ing into the future

Understanding what peer-to-peer economies mean for retail.

So… here we are… welcome to my first Labs blog.

I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss my first project in the lab. A small team of us have just completed an intensive 5-week product discovery sprint, during which we focused on the theme of peer-to-peer economies.

As themes go, they don’t come much more interesting than peer to peer. I use this term fairly loosely, to refer to communities in which individuals interact with one another for mutual benefit, thus decreasing their reliance on large corporations. Such systems come with many benefits to those involved.

One benefit is that they give people the opportunity to earn money by participating in a community. For example, TaskRabbit allows users to outsource a wide variety of household chores and skilled tasks to people in their local community, who in turn earn an hourly fee for their services. Similarly, Uber connects users who need a ride with nearby drivers, who can earn fares from this.

Another major advantage is the responsiveness of these systems, due to both their scale and the fact that service providers are often geographically spread out across the community – an advantage over many more centralised services. Uber claims to have tens of thousands of drivers signed up worldwide, meaning that in its main cities users can usually find a nearby driver pretty quickly. Furthermore, Instacart, which connects people with personal shoppers in their community, claims that its fastest delivery was just 12 minutes!

It would also seem that there is something intrinsically rewarding about supporting an individual, who may not have the backing of a large corporation. The success of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter support this notion, as there is often no financial incentive for making donations to support projects. It just feels good!

So… what does all of this mean for us at Tesco? Could we and should we be getting involved to help create and support such communities?

These are just a couple of the questions we’ve been looking into. We’ve come out of our discovery sprint with some concepts that we could trial, to see the impact of empowering local communities to connect with each other to solve everyday problems. But that’s probably for a whole other blog post…

If you'd like to know more information you can email us at labs@uk.tesco.com, or let us know your thoughts with a tweet @TescoLabs