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Ikea has bought TaskRabbit (recode.net)
502 points by ghaff on Sept 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 200 comments

This is hilarious/perfect to me personally, because I have only ever used TaskRabbit to hire someone to build Ikea furniture.

There are people who don't care to build their own Ikea furniture? How strange! I've always enjoyed building my own Ikea furniture! :)

Agreed. I'm not sure where the misconception of their furniture being difficult to build comes from. In my experience their instructions are unambiguous and well-designed.

I can't agree more, for the furniture I have bought, Ikea's instructions are pretty exemplary.

Without any written words, the instructions are very clear on how to assemble the furniture.

If you pay attention when reading them, it is not possible to make a mistake.

On the other hand, I have also bought from other RDA furnitures and have encountered some obscure instructions.

> If you pay attention when reading them

Ah, that's the problem. We all know that users never read the manual. :)

There's a difference between building "your one desk" and assembling 10 of them for the new company office. It gets old after a few hours :P

Ikea furniture and instructions are Lego of the furniture world. Anyone with half a brain and some patience can assemble it.

I also like that you don't need to be a literate person to assemble their furniture (wordless instructions).

From 30 years ago.

Seriously, at that time the instructions came in gibberish with extremely weird illustrations and you were usually wondering why you had surplus screws.

The design of IKEA furniture at that time was, let's just say, a lot more rustic too.

They are. The times I've been caught were clearly my mistake. Those times and various close calls have been cases of almost symmetry. I've also done things like building two identical units in series or parallel and watched myself learn. I can imagine a great speed up with practice. An apartment's worth of furniture could take me a day, and I can well imagine paying someone $100 for an hour instead.

It's not particularly difficult but nor is it particularly fun. I certainly don't plan to assemble the furniture for my next apartment myself.

But is that because you'll pay someone to assemble similar furniture, or because you'll buy better furniture that isn't just IKEA flat-packs?

I came to the same conclusion as morgante, next time I'd rather pay for assembly instead of doing it for myself for a whole weekend.

It reads like you plan to get entirely new furniture when you move. What’s wrong with the furniture you already own?

I don't currently own any furniture. For the past few years, I've been moving every month or two and never acquired any furniture.

Ah, ok. That makes more sense!

Reminds me of a funny story. I'd give up smoking and was on day 3. It took me several hours and I had a desk but almost looked inside out by the time I'd finished.

Otherwise, it's quite relaxing. I find it enjoyable. The times I see people struggle is when they eschew the instructions.

I put together a couple of wardrobes for a friend which was fine, but she still had to get a genuinely useful person in to drill them together and attach to wall etc as I lacked the tools.

Yes, but they're sometimes also heavy, or would benefit from more than one person working on it at a time.

I wouldn't go so far as to say enjoy.

Unless you get one of the few pieces that are all steel (eg their kitchen wall shelves are quite good) or the even rarer solid timber pieces, its not really that great, it's just cheap (by western standards)

However I also find it weird that there are people who can't put together IKEA furniture. Then again, in Thailand everything that needs assembly will get you a "would you like that assembled (for free)?", usually in-store. This goes for furniture, gardening equipment, you name it.

Whoof, can't stand it, myself. I don't know what it is about the activity, but it just bores/frustrates me silly.

It's not hard! It's perfectly within the realm of accomplishment! I have already built my IKEA desk, bed, table, and bookshelves. I just really disliked every minute of it.

> I just really disliked every minute of it.

Reminds me of a marathon I ran. Did it give me a feeling of accomplishment afterwards? No, just really, really disliked the whole experience. Every min.

I seem to remember a survey that showed people who assembled their own Ikea furniture valued it higher than people who didn't.

That is strange. Even as a Swede I would probably value a Billy more if it came pre assambled, so I was not made actively aware of low quality materials and holes drilled in not-quite-the-right places.

Maybe a cultural thing. I always got the impression IKEA is more respected in other countries, while in Sweden it is seen as cheap furniture owned by everyone.

I think it's certainly seen as cheap elsewhere, but usually of better quality than comparably cheap furniture.

I think that's true. But, in addition, in the US going to an Ikea is usually a bit of an expedition as there aren't that many stores. The stores themselves make things a bit of an event because they're different from the norm, have a fairly nice cafeteria, etc. Add it up and there's a certain aura to Ikea furniture that wouldn't exist if you picked up the exact same box at the local Walmart.

A standard of living thing, you Swedes are richer than almost everyone else.

At some point, McDonalds here (ass end of Eastern Europe) was a place where well-dressed grandparents took their well-dressed kids on Sunday lunches.

Right now Ikea is something people aspire to, as a mark of getting into the middle class. There's A LOT of cheaper, crapier local stuff, with bleached pine wood you can leave a visible dent on if you drop a plate on. (Funny thing is, many of the same furniture factories also work for Ikea.)

It is cheap, and it do not hold up well - but that is why it is cheap.

It's not all rubbish, I've got a solid wood kitchen table from them which is already quite a few years old and looks like it will last a long time.

Their solid wood and better-than-usual-finish furniture are not cheap though. So that goes out the window.

The phenomenon has actually been the subject of a couple of studies, it has been dubbed "The Ikea effect"


My parents, who do small-scale construction and decorating, get non-trivial numbers of enquiries about fixing people's poorly-assembled Ikea furniture.

The problem - is simply dimensions..

I had a ikea desk, which is simply not deep enough - when i sit on it, my hands palm are on the border of the desk. You can not work this way.

It’s less fun when you need to do four identical chairs, or two dressers with six identical drawers.

The Do-it-yourself part is what protects Ikea from all complaints on this earth. Why would they punnish themselves.

It's a meme that a couple who assembles Ikea furniture together is jeopardizing their relationship.

Haha, yea, that is strictly a one-person job.

Some don't have a helping hand and/or cannot follow the instructions (most of the time low quality) and/or don't have the patience and/or have a screw +/- left at the end and/or etc...

> most of the time low quality

Huh? Do they have instruction leaflets where you live? I live in Germany, about 80% of my furniture is Ikea, and I've always found the instructions to be very precise. I was never confused about what to do.

(I won't argue that some furniture needs an additional pair of hands to assemble just because of the weight, of course.)

...or to pick up furniture at an IKEA location, since they're usually way out in the suburbs and shipping prices are exorbitant.

...unless you just bought $3K of furniture after a move and it only cost $49 to deliver downtown!

How do you manage to spend 3k in IKEA?

50 Billys. Why, where do you keep the rest of your books?

On my smartphone. :)

HAHAHA. But, the ebooks are just not the same experience of a physical book. But, I do use both the ebooks and books - depending on the book type.

I'm one of those possibly-rare people who considers the ebook experience superior to the physical book. No bookmarks necessary, can read on Kindle while home and continue reading on my phone while out, mega-cheap if you watch for deals, hundreds of books available to read at any time...what's not to love?

Even 50 Billys comes to just £1750 here in the UK.

(More if you want colour, of course...)

I moved into a apartment in a new city with no furniture. It’s quite possible to rack up a bill like this.

I wouldn't personally use IKEA in that case but an unfurnished house/apartment takes a lot of stuff to become usable.

What would you use?

There are a few things I like IKEA for (the aforementioned "Grundtal" kitchen racks work really well) but generally I prefer more individual furniture (watch Friends where Phoebe responds to Pottery Barn furniture if you want to understand better), and as I'm a little older, I prefer timber furniture (I had more steel/glass stuff when I was in my 20's), which is where IKEA fails hardest, because practically all their "wooden" furniture is just particle board/plywood.

So, for furniture I try to use smaller local places that either sell direct or at least are selling locally built stuff (this works in my favour when you consider the above - shipping assembled solid-timber furniture isn't cheap). This obviously doesn't work everywhere, but I detest living in the city so it hasn't been a problem for me so far.

For general housewares like kitchen utensils/etc I don't see a lot of difference between IKEA/<Name your local shop with homewares: Kmart, Target, etc> so it's just whoever has what I want, but IKEA's constant focus on low price also makes me a little wary of anything that isn't obviously just solid steel/wood (e.g. anything with a steel 'head' and wood/plastic/rubber handle, is basically guaranteed to fall apart) because in my experience these items embody 'you get what you pay for'.

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Personally, IKEA fits my lifestyle pretty well as a young urban-dweller. I don't really anticipate having my furniture for more than 5-10 years and their aesthetic definitely matches my preferences.

I've actually looked at some more "premium" stores and really disliked a lot of their merchandise unless it was obscenely expensive (ie. 10x the price of IKEA).

Well for quality furniture 10x the price of IKEA is not really obscene (depends on which price point of IKEA you're talking about - there are some more "high-end-ish" things there).

But in furniture you get what you pay for - but it has to work with your life (if you are changing your place to live every year or so I don't see the point in buying expensive furniture).

If you stay in one place (or at least are planning to do so) quality furniture which matches your rooms is great (at least for me).

IKEA is replaceable furniture. You don't take it with you.

A couch, a bedframe, a mattress, maybe a dresser, and end tables?

Swedish meatballs.

First: have a lot of money.

Not necessary. They take VISA.

Start with $1000 for a couch, $500 for a mattress. You're already halfway there.

Precisely. While I happen to enjoy building IKEA furniture (in small doses), I would be pleased never to pick it up from a store ever again.

The ikea in Beijing is just next to 4th ring, and delivery is only like 1 or 2 hundred rmb, assembly is just another hundred RMB.

In the states, it is $49-$99, but don't even ask about assembly.

I'm not an Ikea consumer but wasn't one of their big break throughs flat packing of furniture so that it was cheaper to ship?


I enjoy building Ikea products. It is adult LEGO for your home etc.

But, smart play by Ikea I would have to say.

TaskRabbit was cheaper than IKEA's own build service?

IKEA is almost always cheaper, but the service is horrible. They outsource the build service to local contractors and it's a hit or miss, mostly miss.

I bought a closet from IKEA and arranged the service through them. They sent 3 dudes who couldn't speak a word of english. On top of that, the 3 dudes got mad that there was no parking in San Francisco and left. So I had to call IKEA again and get them to come on a Sunday (free street parking).

The actual assembly was also sloppy. The doors weren't aligned properly, some screws were missing (making the door weaker). The left door started to come off after 2 months. Rather than call IKEA and have some other stooge come and make it worse, I looked up youtube videos on how to fix door screw holes (you use glue and wood chips) and fixed it myself.

Personally I build IKEA furniture myself. It's very straightforward and often pretty fun.

I have never met anyone that doesn't do this. I must be living in a different bubble than most people here.

Plus if something isn't right, you really only have yourself to blame, which is nice.

Plus, you can build it "right" (wood glue on all joints, extra corner braces, etc.) It makes it impossible to disassemble but I find that IKEA furniture doesn't handle disassembly and reassembly that well anyways.

tbh I'd imagine most furniture wouldn't either. It's a one way trip.

Speaking from experience with a corner computer desk made out of MDF, yes - I'm amazed it survived being disassembled and moved at all, but it didn't make it the second time.

Metal-and-glass furniture such as certain computer desks, TV stands, etc. can be repeatedly disassembled and reassembled.

Ikea will take back (refund or replace) even the most pathetic attempt at assembly. I had one embarrassing fail and didn't expect sympathy and was really just hoping for a destroyed part replacement (even buying it). They just gave me a whole new unit no questions asked.

If the trip is worth your time.

That's kind of a double-edged sword.

Our city has a local autistic savant who did this: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/01/17/autistic_mans...

Great to see someone with those challenges find a way to be productive. But the article seems to disagree with the above label:

"The boy didn’t show an interest at first, noted Mark, who stresses his son isn’t an 'autistic savant.'"

I looked up youtube videos on how to fix door screw holes (you use glue and wood chips)

As an aside for anyone else that wants to try this next time they strip a screw hole, I find it easier to cram a bunch of toothpicks in the hole, with wood glue, then snap the toothpicks off flush with the surface.

This works in a plaster wall as well, you could use matches if you don't have toothpicks.

I use wooden dowels that I get for free from Ikea. Drill a hole large enough in the stripped area or the dowel, use a bit of wood glue and then hammer the dowel in.

It's perfect.

Golf tees. Good hard wood.

Having not had a golf tee in my hands in a good ten years, aren't they too hard to snap off? IOW, I'd have to saw or sand it flush, right? Regardless, toothpicks I have. I'd have to go buy golf tees. :-)

The service is absolutely abysmal.

I once had an appointment through Ikea for a few items to be delivered. It took 4 different missed appointments for them to finally deliver it. It was a nightmare. First one they never contacted us when they arrived (I live in an apartment building, no way in for non-tenants). Second one was apparently never put in the system. Same with the third one despite me calling the night before to confirm that everything went through, they even confirmed with the third party delivery service. Fourth time it finally showed up.

Would not recommend.

We paid to have a mattress delivered and the old taken away. They showed up at 9pm. They refused to take the mattress up a flight of stairs to our bedroom, they left it in our living room. And they tried to refuse to take the old mattress but I had the work order that specifically said they were taking the old one. When I showed it they said they needed to see my membership card, hoping I couldn't produce it.

My wife was 7 months pregnant and my daughter had a broken wrist, so I had to carry a king size mattress up a flight of stairs by myself so we had somewhere to sleep that night.

My wife raised hell and got the delivery fee refunded but wtf.

Never again.

Agreed, the logistics company IKEA uses - North American Logistics Group is the worst.

A table top got damaged so they had to get me a new one and they said I should call them to reschedule. It was impossible to reach anyone. Even talking to IKEA CS on the phone was clueless as to what to do.

I finally just sent a DM to IKEA customer service on Twitter and they got everything sorted out. So if you need help just message them on Twitter.

This sounds similar to their home delivery service which is awful. The guys dragged my mattress through mud in the yard and wanted cash to bring it to the bedroom because they said they were only responsible for getting it into the house.

I recently had this experience:

* Day 0: order a bunch of IKEA stuff with delivery

* Day 15: get message saying all items ready for delivery, on Day 30

* Day 20: I call shipper and ask if we can reschedule for Day 37 -- no problem

* Day 35: shipper calls and says oops we actually only deliver to my town once a month so it'll have to be on Day 60

... many phone calls with contradicting info and "check with manager" ...

* Day 40: I pay a local contractor to pick items up from shipper's warehouse.

(No refund on shipping because it was "my fault.")

I hope this improves IKEA's absolutely awful installation experience. I recently did some kitchen cabinets, and while the people who did the actual install were great, everything about the experience was awful. IKEA contracted it out to Traemand, who sub-contracted it out to a local company. The local company was really hard to get ahold of and kept losing paperwork and not scheduling things. Once they did schedule something, they sub-sub-contracted it out to yet someone else. The workers would arrive and I'd repeat the instructions I gave to the super contractors, and they'd get this panicked look and say, "Uh... I gotta call the boss about this. They didn't tell us X, Y, or Z" despite me repeatedly making sure that they understood X, Y, and Z. It was a nightmare. Once everything was installed, it was great, but I will never shop at IKEA again because of this experience.

The main issue there is that Ikea isn't owning the installation process. They should be making sure that they know who's doing the work, when they're showing up, etc.

And then tracking that, so if one group of contractors has consistent problems, they can be fired.

That's a problem in the logistics industry as a whole. Nobody owns anything and everybody has a subcontractor.

We have a concept here in Denmark, which directly translated would be "total contractor", which is a person who manages all the different contractors, schedules when they show up and do their work, handles any problems that arise during the project, and all the billing goes through him, so you get a single invoice at the end. I imagine every country has a similar concept, I'm just not aware of the name in English.

In (US) English it's "general contractor".


That is what Home Depot did when my mom bought a kitchen from them. The kitchen designer managed the contractor through the whole process. It wasn't perfect but when problems arose she sorted it quickly.

On the other hand, I had a bathroom project through Lowe’s and they did very little managing. The contractor did a mostly decent job but he was impossible to reach and had a positive aversion to communicating his plans.

That is why they bought TaskRabbit is my guess. With TaskRabbit the whole service should be streamlined to just Ikea and the installer?

yeah, except they're probably just going to use it to streamline their operations ... in order to schedule logistics with their existing contractors ;)

Kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater here...IKEA might still be great for you as long as you avoid all the subcontracted installation services? Unless you don't know or care to turn a screwdriver, I guess! :)

Not OP, but I'm fine putting together basic IKEA furniture but don't think I would try to install kitchen cabinets myself.

I've installed Ikea kitchen cabinets before. The assembly is trivial (they're just boxes), and they all sit on a single rail you screw into the wall at the start. Lifting them into place takes an extra set of hands, but it's not high-skill work. This is not custom cabinetry or anything.

Screwing things into the wall takes some patience, knowledge, a drill and some skill. Not everyone is comfortable with that, or has time to research different types of wall, pick the right fasteners, deal with any surprises during drilling etc.

(e.g. the walls in my (rented) apartment are mostly really solid. Some parts won't even yield to my hammer-drill. Putting up my projector was easy (hollow wall) but I spent 2+ hours putting up my projector screen on the opposite wall (even though only 2 screws).

The hard part is most houses do not contain a single plumb, true, and square room. Walls do weird things, especially where they meet floors and ceilings. Floors are hard to get flat. Etc. I'd say once you resolve all this and get your rail level and parallel to the floor, yes, then throwing up the cabinets is the easiest part. After that, you probably want to learn how to do some molding to trim them in.

Having someone else install your IKEA cabinets for you probably won't help with the quality of the installation if your house is a bit wiggly around the edges.

Perhaps not, but the hope is someone who installs this stuff for a living has encountered these situations enough to know how to handle them, whereas the average person who might try to install this on their own is likely encountering that for the first time.

IKEA's modular kitchens are no different from anything else IKEA has, such as PAX wardrobes or BILLY bookshelves.

The hard part is to measure and plan appropriately (they offer an online 3D tool as well as free in-store consulting here with 3D modeling), but the assembly of the pieces is a cakewalk. I say that as someone who's literally in the middle of some IKEA kitchen assembly right now.

IKEA's kitchen modules are also brilliant for non-kitchen applications. They work for any kind of storage. Skip the fronts (limited selection, cheap-looking), countertops (mostly fiberboard) and handles, and use the modules as "hulls" dressed with better materials. Third-party vendors include:

Superfront — https://superfront.com/

Semihandmade – https://www.semihandmadedoors.com/

Kokeena – http://kokeena.com/

Dunsmuir – https://www.dcabinets.com/

Reform – https://www.reformcph.com/

Why not? It is the perfect opportunity to A. buy more tools, B. Use almost untouched tools you bought last time something like this happened.

Yeah, it's exactly this. My spouse has a chronic condition which precludes them helping me, and I'm also not great at detail work (especially if it involves heavy labor like lifting things). I would inevitably end up having it be just slightly not level, and it would bug me for the rest of my days. :-) I also have other things to do and would rather pay someone to do it for me. When I was younger I might have tried to do it myself, but no more.

I think you are better off buying the stuff from Ikea then finding a good local contractor to do the work. Having said that, where I live finding a good contractor is harder than finding a good programmer.

*at the price you're willing to pay

This is an interesting move, a design/manufacturing/retail company buying a labor marketplace company.

Ikea has grown a ton based on having widely appealing products at extremely low prices. Their growth over the past decade has been driven by expanding their physical retail presence on the one-giant-store-per-city model. The store build-out on this model may be done, at least in the US. Still, many potential buyers aren't willing to make the pilgrimage to Ikea because it's far, or simply because you can get an OK entertainment center at Target instead.

Key to Ikea's brand is the memorable in-store experience. If they can match that in their in-home shopping apps and in delivery/assembly/install services, they could grow significantly. If they believe this, expect them to leverage TaskRabbit not just to streamline delivery/install but to offer new Ikea-branded services. A few ideas:

* New apartment? Use our app to pick and place furniture, our designers to get advice, and our people to deliver and install everything.

* Remodel mockup services. Not sure how your kitchen layout will look? Have us block things out using cardboard boxes to you can walk through and feel it out.

* Organization & storage. Have someone go through your basement and inventory everything. Use our app to route each item to donation, resale, or storage. Once stored, app helps you find an item whether it's in your basement (shelf 3, bay 12) or retrievable by delivery-on-request.

> The store build-out on this model may be done, at least in the US.

It most definitely is NOT. For instance the nearest Ikea to the Raleigh/Triangle area is over 2 hours away.

There are 24 US states without a single Ikea store.

They have recently began a large wave of expansion [1] in the US. Raleigh (Cary) is getting one soon. So is Norfolk, Nashville, Jacksonville, Columbus OH, Milwaukee; they're also beginning to build second (or additional) locations in large metros like Chicago, DFW, Phoenix.

[1] http://www.ikea.com/us/en/about_ikea/newsroom/expansion_plan...

I hope they try more innovative stuff in their new stores. Such as making self-checkout the primary means instead of the alternative. The long lines are often a problem and a single row of the checkout machines has 4-6 machines vs 1 or 2 people run counters. So it would speed things up

They could even extend it to offer more services like ordering delivery and install services.

It also makes a lot of sense in their current system.

Ugh, the new, remodeled, Ikea in Seattle got rid of the self checkouts. Checking out now takes at least 15 minutes. Sometimes more. It's awful.

Any idea why? I've never seen a store add them and then remove them.

Actually, lots of stores are removing self-checkouts nowadays.

They tend to be a lot slower than cashiers, lead to more theft, and few people like to use them anyway.

Source? I've heard quite the opposite...

Edit: according to an international study theft increased from 1-2% to 4% but 60% of the people polled said they only stole it because the item wouldn't scan. This seems to be a technical and UX problem. There is a lot of room for improvement with the machines and from my experience it varies by store.

Otherwise 75% of people said it made their experience faster.

I wasn't able to find any evidence of 'lots of stores removing them' though...


> I wasn't able to find any evidence of 'lots of stores removing them' though...

IKEA is phasing them out in Germany, and all German store chains that had self-checkout have since removed them, or are in the process. There is not a single chain that is actively deploying new ones, or keeping them.

Strange, quite the opposite experience here in Canada.

Our biggest pharmacy (Shoppers Drug Mart) and dollar store (Dollarama) both with thousands of stores are going to be deploying self-checkouts soon. Various grocery stores and big box stores all over the city already have it.

Ikea only has 2 stores in the area so even if they remove it it won't be that noticeable in terms of deployment...

It may be Imea is trying more of a customer service thing for certain stores ala Amazon's focus on human interactions vs actual ROI or popularity.

Huh, that's surprising. Two of the three supermarkets near me have phased out cashiers almost entirely.

Same, my local grocery store added more machines after an initial phase and there are disproportionately bigger lineups to use them than the cashiers.

Not to mentioned Ontario, where I'm from, just passed new minimum wage laws ($15CAD/hr) and a bunch of retailers are responding by investing in self checkout for the first time.

That was the motivation as well when the 9€ minimum wage was passed here, too, but they've removed all of them since.

Cashiers are much faster than self checkout, and you still need to employ one person for every 4 self checkouts to prevent theft.

Around where I live, beside Walmart Superstores, those supermarkets that added some self-checkout have since removed them. Self-checkout is such an abysmal experience in supermarkets especially if you buy things like produce that I'll actively avoid any store that uses them extensively.

I have less of a problem in convenience-type stores but I'm usually not buying much stuff and rarely produce.

Maybe it's differing design of machines or something. The only time I'll use a manned checkout these days is if I'm buying alcohol. Otherwise, the automatic one is generally far quicker, and there are usually far more of them.

One of those frustrating problems that's already solved, but in pieces too widely scattered to do anyone any good.

Well, automated checkout with RFID tags is nowadays a viable solution, and first stores are deploying it.

They were trying to add a second store in the Boston area for a long time but they finally gave up on trying to get one into Somerville. (There was a lot of local opposition--mostly because of traffic concerns as I recall.) AFAIK, there's no current plan to add another store. The existing one is a fair ways south of the city.

I don't see how they could build something anywhere near as large as that store in Somerville anyway.

The Assembly Square project. But I think the traffic concerns were probably legit.


Still no Hawaii location...

They could double or triple their prices, and they'd still be much cheaper than the competition. :-(

The one is Columbus is already open.

Chicago has had two locations for like a decade now.

It may be that they have mostly saturated in the markets where they think they are competitive.

Perhaps. A lot of this boils down to the question of why they're expanding now and not sooner. Ikea stores are big investments and when they started rapidly expanding in the US they may not have had confidence in the long-term profitability of each store, including reliance on the housing market and taste-driven desirability of Ikea products. (What if Americans only saw Swedish furniture as a short-lived fad?)

Maybe now it's clear Ikea has a long-standing place in American retail, so in addition to expanding the giant-store footprint they want to invest in other forms of access.

i doubt it. i think america is just huge, and that they can't responsibly expand too fast.

remember, ikea is expanding globally. on my last vacation, i saw an ikea identical to the one by my house in california, in southern germany. that's really sort of unprecedented at the scale of an ikea store.

Ikea wants 2 million people within 60 miles of a store, apparently, though they've started experimenting with smaller stores in smaller markets.


> remember, ikea is expanding globally

And they're expanding mainly with their own money. They're a family-owned company without outside investors. Ingvar Kamprad is pretty economically conservative.

>Their growth over the past decade has been driven by expanding their physical retail presence on the one-giant-store-per-city model. > If they can match that in their in-home shopping apps and in delivery/assembly/install services, they could grow significantly. If they believe this, expect them to leverage TaskRabbit not just to streamline delivery/install but to offer new Ikea-branded services.

Are you aware that IKEA is a multinational company founded in 1943 and the world's largest furniture retailer, and not an SV startup?

I suspect the ambition is less lofty. They know people use TR regularly to deliver and install Ikea furniture and they figure on taking a slice.

> Their growth over the past decade has been driven by expanding their physical retail presence on the one-giant-store-per-city model.

One? Hamburg (1.5mio ppl) alone has 3, plus several more within of 1h driving distance.

I think the parent comment was referring to how IKEA operates in the US.

Judging from my Ikea kitchen delivery experience, I fully expect to have some dude with $20k in cabinets tied to the roof of his Honda shop up at people's houses.

Holy cow, you spent $20k on Ikea kitchen cabinets?

Edit: Wow, you guys are touchy. For $20k you could get fully custom cabinets from a local shop made with cabinet-grade plywood for a typically-sized kitchen.

I spent around $7k, came down to around $5 after we got concessions for the damage caused by the van full of drunken homeless people who delivered the stuff.

The guy ahead of me in line spent like $30k on a massive kitchen. It seems strange to spend that much, but if you lack the funds to build a super high quality massive kitchen, IKEA is good enough at bargain prices.

This is also highly dependent on location. Out where I live now, 20 grand will buy me some nice fully custom cabinets. When I lived in DC on the other hand...

Ikea kitchens are very nice.

They used to be much worse.

My IKEA kitchen was around 12k plus appliances, and it's quite nice. We installed it ourselves though.

You guys? There's one response and it's pretty tame.

I was way downvoted when I edited.

I find it interesting how some types of personal service companies seem to resonate with people but a lot don't.

I suspect TaskRabbit never really made it big because of some combination of transaction costs associated with one-off only somewhat standardized tasks and the fact that, presented with a bill to assemble cheap Ikea furniture or to pickup their laundry, most people will decide they'd just as soon do it themselves.

My personal theory is that TaskRabbit is too general purpose for people to think to use it. When I am at a bar and want to be at my house, it's really easy for me to think of an app that will solve my problem.

If I don't have time to assemble the elaborate toy train set I bought for my kid, it will probably never occur to me that I could pay someone to drop in and do that task for me, even if I would happily pay someone if they offered.

> If I don't have time to assemble the elaborate toy train set I bought for my kid, it will probably never occur to me that I could pay someone to drop in and do that task for me, even if I would happily pay someone if they offered.

That's the kind of problem nobody should ever have in the first place. The whole point is to work together on it, not just to give it. To have some stranger put it together defeats the purpose.

Unless they wanted to dress up in a three piece suit with a top hat and smoke a cigar while they watch the train set being assembled in order to live out some kind of bizarre railroad executive fantasy possibly inspired by too many re-reads of Atlas Shrugged.

Point is, the purpose of toys is to have fun. I wouldn't regard my example to be any different than spending one's disposable income on a trip to Vegas or a VR headset.

Who didn't aspire to be the Fat Controller when watching Thomas the Tank Engine?

I think that's not contradicting OP's point. It's a "long tail" type of problem--nobody's going to buy a Super Bowl ad for Uber for model train assembly. Not even every model train buyer wants it. (Incidentally, I can think of plenty of situations where you would give a child a model train and not be willing or able to assemble it and still have it be a net gain for the kid).

My personal issue with TR was price. Not that it was priced outside my ability to afford, but that it was priced out of the range of what is reasonable for the tasks that I would entrust to a never-met-before contractor. Eg, in a time-critical emergency I once paid a TR $45 to pick up a book from a store and bring it to a relative nearby, once (lots of context, just go with it.)

But let's be honest: it's a rare, rare event that someone is going to pay $45 for non-skilled, essentially un-fuckup-able jobs.

If TR was "hire a spare set of hands for minimum wage when needed, with quality reviews", sure, I could think of lots of use cases. But paying more than triple minimum wage for a minimum wage task? It's just rare that the situation merits that sort of over-spending.

I also just don't have that many one-off tasks around home that are

-- Big enough to be worth getting someone to do for me

-- A task that I can have someone do for me with fairly simple instructions

-- Something I'm willing to pay someone else to do for me

I already have a lawn service and an occasional housekeeper and borrow a neighbor's handyman [for brush clearing] from time to time. But most of the "wouldn't it be nice is this were all organized/cleaned" stuff around my house aren't really things I could delegate.

I also just don't seem to live in a critical mass area for TaskRabbit. Just did a search for a handyman and one came up at $90/hr and a 71% positive rating. I think I'll pass.

Why are people so damned busy they couldn't build a train set with their kid? That would be fun as all hell.

I am not trying to blame you specifically, as I'm guessing you meant it as an example.

I suspect TaskRabbit never really made it big because of some combination of transaction costs

I was a TaskRabbit user. I'd say that they had a problem with quality control and maintaining a really good user experience. Too many of their workers were kind of meh. This was especially apparent with moving. I would be unpacking and something from storage and think to myself, "She did that!?" I also made the mistake of using them to hire someone for a move-out cleaning. Their interface was seemingly designed to generate misunderstanding.

I'm sure they also have the same business issue that a lot of these personal services firms do. If I come across a particularly good handyman (or whatever) when using the service, you can be sure that we'll trade cards and I'll probably be calling him directly for any relevant task in the future.

This. Uber works because the need to get somewhere is time critical and drivers(mostly) are more or less commodity. For more personal, repeat services that are not time sensitive, uber-like middleman service doesn't make sense beyond 1st contact.

And at that point, the business is essentially just an electronic yellow pages with ratings. Which is fine. But, at that point, the business model is probably just charging a listing fee. Which is fine but is never going to have the potential revenue of getting a cut from each transaction.

When you say interface to you mean app UI/UX or more generally what TaskRabbit does?

UI/UX. It was only after the booking was done, and I contacted the TaskRabbit person the day before to confirm, that she realized it was a move out cleaning, and that I should have put my request in the "Intensive Cleaning" section, or something like that. To be fair to TaskRabbit, she didn't read my job description at all. But still, I felt kinda slimed by the interface.

IKEA needs to solve the problem with distance to store or shipping. More than just the "Collection Points" they are building.

They need to partner with a physical brick and mortar store to ship and store product. Similar to what Amazon is going to do with Whole Foods. IKEA needs a partner like Whole Foods where users can pick up their product.

Currently buying anything on IKEA and having it shipped is super costly, and even the collection points don't service small towns/cities.

> Currently buying anything on IKEA and having it shipped is super costly

It's definitely a problem. I'm about 3-4 hours away from the nearest Ikea. And it would cost $250 to get any large items: http://ikeadirectcatalogorder.com (Yes, that is the official site).

Now, by day, I'm an engineer who builds large machines. I have a semi truck or lowboy in my parking lot weekly. I get that freight is expensive - $250 to have a truck to my door isn't great for one skid, but it's not bad either. But at home? I'm used to free shipping, and that's jaw-droppingly expensive.

Ikea is a strongly price-competitive seller. They can't afford to bump all their prices by 20% and offer "free" shipping, because in-store purchasers would mutiny.

I know of groups on Facebook where people bundle their purchases and split the shipping cost.

My sister lives in Raleigh and the closest IKEA is Charlotte. It's a 3 hour drive and they are willing to make it once or twice a year when they can. But if they could buy online and have it appear in their local grocery store I'm sure their spending would increase dramatically.

It seems like there is an opportunity for IKEA, or someone else to help get product to these people. And as I showed above, it's not only people in small towns. Raleigh is a big city and yet people have to drive 3 hours to get to the nearest IKEA.

Interestingly, while checking to make sure IKEA hadn't launched in Raleigh, I came across this little biz http://www.ncmodernfurniture.com/ikea-delivery/

I tried TaskRabbit once in London, and was put off because there was no way to set a fixed price. It seemed one just had to agree an hourly rate with no limit, which made it impossible to compare.

Guesses as to the purchase price? Curious how folks think the founders and VC will make out.

Buy a Billy shelf and get it built by TaskRabbit. Is this the reason they bought them?

IKEA delivery and assembly has to be a non trivial amount of TaskRabbit revenue

Ikea already offers assembly services. I expect that part of this is to plug into a larger pool of contractors.

Makes me think of this IKEA job interview comic


This is the first time i saw this; hilarious! :-)

If Google and Yelp were (supposedly) interested in Task Rabbit, does this mean that they might still be interested in similar companies? The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Zaarly.

What was it that TaskRabbit had that Zaarly didn't? It seems like a pretty obvious gap for Zaarly to fill to get lined up as bait now that they know that there's a market for acquisition. Did Zaarly focus too much on the ServiceMaster space and not enough on the "white glove" some-assembly-required space that a retailer like Amazon might be interested in?

I think Google is interested in nearly everyone. A bunch of large acquisitions over the last 10 years probably mentioned Google at least once.

Thought the fact that you needed to build your own furniture was core to Ikea's business model?

"The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. The name derives from the name of Swedish manufacturer and furniture retailer IKEA, which sells many furniture products that require assembly."

This is pretty neat. Does this mean IKEA will start giving you TaskRabbit discounts for buying IKEA furniture? I'd be into that.

I don't read instructions when I assemble furniture and I can't think why somebody needs one.

I could see this making sense -- TaskRabbit only makes sense if there's economies of scale on the demand side -- I imagine that's hard to generate with the tasks they have on there. I've only ever ordered one TaskRabbit -- and yes, it was to assemble Ikea furniture.

Perfect marriage. Our office furnitures are mostly from IKEA and we hired a guy from taskrabbit to assemble two dozen desks and cabinets, it literally took him 3 work days to build them all but the quality was pretty good!

"Robots are coming for your job, but only if it is routine/systematic", says <everyone>.

What is more routine/systematic than assembling IKEA furniture?

Systematic if it's in a controlled and repeatable environment. Not so systematic if you need a robot to assemble your table in the middle of your living room. You can't achieve Ikea's scale by completely assembling everything in a factory because it increases shipping, storage and logistic costs-- not to mention complicating moving the furniture into your new home.

I hope they keep the ability to hire tasks other than furniture assembly! I use Taskrabbit at least every week. They are our operations team!

How do you use them? And what prices do you typically pay for the services you use?

95% of tasks are courier pickup/dropoff within the metro Boston area. Traditional couriers require calling, getting quotes etc. Taskrabbit allows me to quickly find a courier (sometimes even within 60 minutes) that's vetted, reviewed, and professional. The app allows me to message/call them and has all my credit card information saved. Everything is done from my phone or browser (note: no paperwork). The experience is always better and cheaper than a 'professional' courier company.

EDIT: I usually pay $40-$90 for a metro Boston pickup/dropoff (about 1-2 hours of driving time). The app has an endless stream of sponsored promo codes (e.g. this week's 'The American Housewife' TV show $50 promo code) that almost always subsidize the service and ensures that I don't pay full price.

Lately, I've been thinking about the opportunity to create an Uber-like service that lowers prices by providing in-ride advertisements. Personally, I wouldn't mind a few ads if it means that I'll pay 50% less for my ride.

Why couldn't Ikea just use TaskRabbit for business when its customers ordered service. Why buy TaskRabbit and ruin it?

Don't buy from ikea, infowar says it is funded by divorce lawyers.

In which countries/cities does TaskRabbit operate?

Good for TaskRabbit. They've worked hard for years

TaskRabbit is a perfect adjacency for Ikea because it’s not easy to assemble their furniture without help.

I don't like how taskrabbit refers to their workers as "rabbits." This is demeaning.

FWIW, They are actually called "Taskers" https://www.taskrabbit.com/become-a-tasker

They started with rabbits, but changed it to taskers.

We're called 'colleagues' at work (US company). Always reminds me of the so-called communism propaganda I used to live in.

Wow, is this the first React-Native success story? As far as mobile app startups are concerned?

Sure. React Native made them have a great business model that covers a niche and solves a real problem. Thanks to React Native they could negotiate a better deal with Ikea. Sigh.

Obviously I didn't mean THE contributing factor to their success but it sure as hell saves a lot of money in development costs. ;)

Not likely a direct cause ;-) but React Native does add to our velocity. We are now definitely hiring if you want to be part of the ongoing React Native success story... Feel free to hit me up: brian at taskrabbit.com

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