Supply Chain in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is somewhat of a newer concept. Also known as the shareconomy or the collaborative economy, the idea is simple. Harnessing the power of the Internet its use of big data, it uses the concept of an open source community, allowing for peer-to-peer sharing. Prime examples of businesses that partake in the sharing economy are Uber, Airbnb and even eBay. These companies serve as platform for users to directly conduct business among each other, without the middle man. Though sometimes controversial, there is no doubt that the sharing economy is changing the way we live. So how does it affect supply chain? Keep reading to find out.

Consumer Expectations

We live in a fast paced world, and it’s only getting faster. With delivery times getting shorter, customer expectations are increasing. In order to keep up, retailers are finding different ways to speed up the supply chain. With the middle man being cut, conducting business is becoming more accessible.

Companies like Uber are now taking part of the supply chain with Uber Freight. Essentially, it uses the same sharing structure as Uber, but instead, matches carriers and shippers. Eliminating the need for negotiations, it is making communication between parties smoother and faster.

However, this may push companies too far. Big online retailer, Amazon, has recently come under fire for treating its warehouse workers poorly with almost unrealistic quotas. Many are calling it “modern-day slavery” due to the high speed and high volume of inventory, workers are pushed to their limits to meet orders and goals set by the company.

Evolving Practices

The sharing economy is proving that supply chain models are starting to evolve. The point-to-point supply chain is old news. Much of the structure and rigidness of ensuring stability in the supply chain are often being surpassed with the sharing economy. Because the sharing economy forms more direct links, it cuts down steps, therefore speeding up the process. Additionally, the directness of the sharing economy can cut costs as well. Each step in the supply chain adds to your costs, but by reducing the steps needed, there is less that needs to be invested.

The sharing economy isn’t out to completely replace the global supply chain, but the mindset towards expansion is changing. Companies that refuse to adapt, may be playing a losing game.

Big Data

Big data has been helpful in many ways, but for supply chain specifically, it has changed the way suppliers view their customers. They are able to get updated information from customers instantly. All this data allows suppliers to gain better insights, helping them understand what each customer requires. As well, analyzing this data can help with predicting future trends and with demand forecasting.


Overall, the sharing economy is changing the way we do things in many areas of our lives, including supply chain. Though it has its pros and cons, it is important that suppliers, manufacturers and retailers all keep up with evolving practices. Whether you support it or not, the sharing economy is making societal changes. Use it to your advantage as failing to adapt may do you harm.

Want to learn more about your supply chain? Find out how Clear Spider can help you