Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I can remember when IKEA first came to town.

I was living in London and the bright blue and yellow stood out as a beacon of ingenuity and good sense against the depressed gray of the London skyline.

These days, a little like the fellow Swedes at H&M, IKEA is in too many places. 

It doesn't quite have the glamour it used to enjoy. 

And then there's the fact that you have to put its furniture together yourself. Who does that these days? 

Make an effort, I mean.

We want everything now, fresh, new and so organic that our own organs need hardly move in order to partake of comfort and pleasure.

What was IKEA supposed to do in the face of not only consumer laziness -- you can everything online, after all -- and its own slightly aging profile?

Less than 18 months ago, it bought TaskRabbit -- the service that sends people out to do the most basic things for you, like wiping your sink.

And with this, IKEA began to see a radically new horizon for itself. Instead of just selling you (relatively) cheap, (sort of) simple (to put together) furniture, it saw potential in the services business.

In this, it's not alone.

Another slightly aging company -- Apple -- is finding that enhancing services can make up some of the profit that might be lost as people don't find iPhones so exciting anymore.

IKEA just revealed to Reuters that its TaskRabbit business is doing quite well. 

Very well, when it comes to putting together IKEA furniture.

Once upon a time, furniture assembly made up a mere 2 percent of TaskRabbit's efforts. Now, it's 10 percent.

Which has given IKEA an IDEA.

What if it persuades its customers that TaskRabbiteers can fix a whole lot more home-related aspects of people's homes?

Furniture repair, for example. You've moved house, you had to disassemble your IKEA bed and, trying to put it back together again, you lost your temper and broke it.

Get online and hail a TaskRabbiteer. 

And would you buy interior design from TaskRabbit? Admit it, you would if it was cheap.

I bet you'd consider it for painting, too. How about helping you move furniture around? How about choosing colors for your various rooms? How about flooring advice? 

Naturally, I worry, and not just because IKEA's share of the U.S. home furniture market is actually in reverse.

I worry that IKEA's TaskRabbit business might become a sort of Uber for the home. 

Customers might worry -- just as they do with Uber -- who's walking into their lives.

And the more the business expands, how can IKEA guarantee that these TaskRabbiteers really do have some expertise between their ears?

A good friend of mine gets TaskRabbiteers to come and do his washing up.

Naturally, I berate him.

"It's my little treat to myself," he explains.

I wonder, though, how many people will treat themselves to more IKEA services when there's more competition and a visit to an actual IKEA store is, oh, such a drag. 

Published on: Feb 12, 2019
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