Why I’m Excited About Ikea Buying TaskRabbit

September 28, 2017, 6:01 PM UTC
Ikea AB Opens First Store In South Korea
Customers carrying Ikea AB shopping bags leave the company's store in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi province, South Korea, on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Ikea, the world's largest home-furnishings retailer, opened its first store in South Korea. Photographer: Jean Chung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jean Chung—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Shopping at Ikea in New York is a small odyssey. Unlike in normal cities where people have access to cars and trunks, to get to the Ikea in Brooklyn, you must first seek out the Ikea bus (one of not-many options in transit-starved Red Hook), then you wend your way through the demo of suspiciously well-worn products, navigate your way through a warehouse full of hundreds of other pushy shoppers with 200-pounds of furniture in their carts, and then stand in a 45-minute line with no cell service, wondering how you’re going to get your Landsrkona back on the bus.

When I met Felix, though, all that changed. Felix was the man we hired off TaskRabbit to furnish our new apartment after he had helped me move a year earlier.

Not only was he willing to assemble the new sofa, he also was willing to go to the store, pick out the items, wait in the line, and bring them directly to our apartment. All this cost, improbably, less than the $59 Ikea charges its Brooklyn customers for delivery.

But it got better, instead of throwing out my back trying to assemble furniture and ending up with a permanent Allen wrench-shaped indentation in my palm, Felix assembled everything (again for a reasonable fee). Floating bookcases and all—accomplishing feats of furniture construction I would never have attempted.

It’s not yet clear exactly what Ikea has in store for TaskRabbit. Did Ikea buy TaskRabbit because its furniture is too hard to put together, as Fast Company recently pondered? Or did it do it because millennials are too maladapted to do heavy assembly, and too cheap to call normal handymen for their floating bookcases? Or maybe it’s because their store experiences are too time consuming and borderline traumatic.

It stands to reason that Ikea, a company famous for putting their customers through grueling manual labor, would make a concession to the times and move slightly closer to the instant-gratification service that’s come to typify successful tech businesses.

I just hope that they start paying Felix benefits.

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