• Jacobs Communications

Retailers add in-home services to compete with e-commerce

In the race for a portion of consumer spending, retailers are adding new services as a way to differentiate against e-commerce competitors. Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Ikea are partnering with or using contractors to perform services that include furniture assembly, appliance installation, technology set up and expert advice in the customer’s living space.

As retailers look to expand market space, more will develop, either through investments or acquisitions, service platforms to grow their reach. The biggest headline in this space happened in 2017 with Ikea’s purchase of TaskRabbit. Since its acquisition by Ikea, the TaskRabbit platform is now available at every Ikea store in the U.S. TaskRabbit connects Ikea customers with skilled Taskers to help with a variety of home services. Customers choose a service and select the day and time they would like a qualified Tasker to show up. All Taskers are qualified and fully vetted by TaskRabbit. When the task is complete, payment will happen seamlessly and securely through the app.

Walmart is also outsourcing its service offering. Since March, it’s been working with Handy, a digital platform that connects home service providers — including plumbers, cleaners and general-service contractors — on furniture and appliance installation. The retailer said it’s about customer convenience.

Moves like these are critical for retailers who have product where the barrier to entry is low since consumers can find similar items and similar prices online and at competitors. Using service platforms provides a way to add benefit to the purchase process and also plays into the important trend of “I want everything done for me”

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