For Collaborative Consumption – Trust is Key
Recently, four leaders in the world of collaborative consumption (a.k.a. – the “sharing economy”) came together in a Silicon Valley panel session. The panelists from TaskRabbit, Getaround, Rentcycle, and LiquidSpace gave insight into the motivation and future of collaborative consumption, but delved most deeply into the question of trust.
Collaborative consumption is here to stay. Driven by a combination of economic pressure, concern about the environment, a generational shift towards sharing vs. ownership, and technology that let’s people access what they need when they need it, the sharing economy is growing quickly and getting mainstream attention. (Check out comedian Stephen Colbert interviewing Steve Case on the sharing economy.)
Collaborative consumption has has arisen alongside social networks as people shared information about themselves that they would have considered private in the past. If I can share information about myself, why not my stuff?
Whether sharing people’s time (TaskRabbit), cars (Getaround), stuff (Rentcycle), or workspace (LiquidSpace), “trust is central,” states Task Rabbit’s Victor Echevarria. “It’s what separates us from Craigslist.”
Customer trust starts with the quality of the collaborative consumption platform. These platforms combine automation of screening and vetting of the inventory and the potential users with intensive customer support, insurance policies and processes to form a baseline of confidence for the customer. While the social self-policing elements – ratings, reviews, messaging, and profiles – are integral to the platform, “it’s too much work to push on to the customer,” according to Getaround’s Avery Lewis. “It’s the role of the platform to do the work… If we asked our owners to check the people’s driver’s license, they’d have no idea if the driver’s license is fake or stolen.”
Additionally, “Trust is not a binary thing. There are degrees of trust, and, at different levels of trust, I may be willing to extend varying level of privileges,” clarifies LiquidSpace’s Mark Gilbreath. For example, with LiquidSpace, venues can choose to provide more or less access to their office space based on the degree of trust they have in the person who’s asking.
All four agreed that, like it or not, the collaborative consumption industry is in it together. In the future, the platforms may look to share information about the credibility of participants – forming a reputation clearinghouse to continue to build more trust. Meanwhile, consumers, while excited about the benefit of using only what you need when you need it, are counting on the platforms to protect them.
Watch the Orrick’s TOTAL ACCESS panel featuring:
- Victor Echevarria, Task Rabbit
- Mark Gilbreath, LiquidSpace
- Tim Hyer, Rentcycle
- Avery Lewis, Getaround
- Amit Garg, Norwest Venture Partners (moderator)