While companies like Uber and Amazon continue to turn to tech savvy city-dwellers to test new business models that rely on crowdsourced employees, a survey released today serves as a reminder of just how far the so-called “sharing economy” still has to go.
Shipping software company Endicia commissioned the study to see what more than 1,000 consumers across the U.S. think of the new Amazon Flex package delivery program, which pays everyday drivers to deliver packages for the company in their spare time. The service is just available in Seattle for now, but the company has already announced plans to bring it to nine other markets from Atlanta to Portland.
This wasn’t that unusual of a concept for anyone who comes into contact with these kinds of independent contractors almost daily through companies like Uber and Airbnb. But the same couldn’t be said for those less familiar with the concept.
The survey found 61 percent of respondents have never used any kind of on-demand shipping service before, like Postmates or Amazon Prime Now. Of those who never had, 65 percent said it was because they didn’t know the services existed and 24 percent said there simply aren’t any options where they live.
Even more surprisingly, 68 percent of respondents said they have never used one of many ride-sharing services that use a similar business model like Uber or Lyft, according to Endicia’s findings.
When the survey specifically asked what people thought of Amazon’s new Flex delivery option, 33 percent said they had no interest in trying it out and 59 percent said they prefer to get packages from delivery workers in uniform. An overwhelming 92 percent said they’re still more likely to use traditional delivery methods because of their familiarity, reliability, security and convenience.
This consumer reluctance just builds on top of legal headaches involved with independent contractors, as several groups have now gone to court fighting the worker classification because they aren’t entitled to normal employee benefits.
There is clearly a market for these kinds of on-demand services, but the survey underscores just how big of a challenge Amazon has accepted in launching its new crowdsourced delivery method.
Average consumers are notoriously slow tech adopters, especially when it involves a completely new way of doing things. Uber may have paved the way by taking the on-demand business model to new heights, but even it has yet to bring the sharing economy to the majority of Americans.