3 things SMEs can learn from the sharing economy » SMEInsider

3 things SMEs can learn from the sharing economy

FINAL sharing economy image

The sharing economy – where people rent total strangers everything from puppies to parking spaces – is hailed as the future of commerce.  What can small business owners learn from these innovative companies, many of which have grown from tiny startups to international corporations?

Put trust first

Everything the sharing economy does is predicated on trust – without that crucial element a business model built giving strangers access to your home, car or to-do list would collapse.

Trust can be built in all kinds of ways – ridesharing service BlaBlaCar, for example, prominently displays the ways in which it creates a safe environment for ridesharing: By authenticating member identities, allowing the community to self-moderate and evaluate members and making employees available 24/7 in case of problems.

According to Tami Cannizzaro, global vice president of marketing at IBM, “The sharing economy requires people to put their trust in complete strangers. Leverage social proof and peer reviews to build trust and loyalty with customers at a grass-roots level.”

Empower your customers

The sharing economy is expert at transforming users into engaged and excited brand advocates. Much of this comes from the sense of control the sharing economy gives its consumers: Peer reviews are a cornerstone of the business model, giving people a real voice, and many of the sharing economy’s consumers  are also its suppliers. Give your customers a seat at the table – you might be amazed at the results.

Focus on your community

Whether you’re connecting residents of physical communities like My Dog Buddy or establishing digital communities of like-minded people as marketplaces like Etsy do, facilitating communication between people with shared interests gives you an opportunity to make hyper-targeted plays for their loyalty.

Small businesses have a major advantage in this area — unlike multinationals, you’re already a vital part of the community in which you operate. Make it work for you.

Cannizzaro said: “Larger companies often don’t spend time on the type of community engagement that is the hallmark of sharing economy brands. Take the time to seed your brand story in your neighbourhood and develop brand-building campaigns in targeted communities.”

In other words, establish yourself as a cornerstone of the community and then watch business blossom.

Experts from BlaBlaCar, Etsy, HotelTonight and JustPark will discuss the future of the sharing economy at a StrategyEye event on 26 February at The Escalator in London. Learn more and register here.

  • Jordi Chispa

    I think trust is a big issue, especially as we try more to become more aware of the personal connection these peer-to-peer platforms offer versus faceless and large corporations. Companies like Trip4real, Airbnb etc are empowering the person, it’s the core of their business, I think it’s a good thing! It really shows the power of the social impact these businesses have. 🙂

  • Great article and trust, as you say, is the key. As well as Traity as a solution is there some form of insurance product designed for the Sharing Economy?