Aug.21 - The internet is enabling a shift in consumer habits through the rise of the sharing economy and the websites that host renting out your spare room or lending a power drill to complete strangers are giving big companies a run for their money. Joanne Nicholson talks to some helping make it happen.
From a complete stranger on the internet to the comfort of your own home. More and more people are switching on to the idea of borrowing things they'd rather not buy. Alex Nisbett uses the website Ecomodo to lend and borrow tools. SOUNDBITE (English) ALEX NISBETT, ECOMODO WEBSITE USER, SAYING: "It's maximising the value of those things that we own and not being afraid to allow other people to benefit from the things we own so in that respect it's probably about seeing products more as services rather than objects in a box." The sharing economy is growing. Sites like of accomodation finder Airbnb and short term car rental company Zipcar are now mainstream and it's become a challenge to the bigger players, who thought sharing was just a reaction to the global recession. Rachel Botsman is author of 'What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live'. She says companies have been forced to be more creative. SOUNDBITE (English) RACHEL BOTSMAN, AUTHOR OF WHAT'S MINE IS YOURS: HOW COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION IS CHANGING THE WORLD, SAYING: "GM has partnered with a peer to peer car sharing service - Relayrides. Marriot hotels has partnered with a company called Liquidspace which makes the sharing of office and meeting space really easy. BMW has partnered with ParkatMyHouse You're also getting more and more brands actually saying rather than seeing this as a threat, is it a massive innovation opportunity. Should we be switching to a services model not just from a revenue perspective but because it offers a different way to engage our customers." come off soundbite at computer. Scrolling websites - pull out to PTC As the number of sharing websites have grown, it's little wonder they'd hit some obstacles along the way. Some have had problems over insurance and tax, but these things are now being addressed. Like many sites, Ecomodo makes money by taking a small commission from the lenders fees. Tracy Currer is its co-founder, and says the sharing economy will shift the balance of power back to the consumer. SOUNDBITE (English) TRACY CURRER, CO-FOUNDER, ECOMODO, SAYING: "The money they've saved there they can actually push that into doing some other things with their family. It doesn't stop that money moving around, it just pushes it in very different places." You might not think the idealism of the sharing economy will last. But the fact that regulators, tax collectors and big companies are getting involved suggests it's an area with huge growth potential.