The engines for the current sharing economy are Internet, social media and GPS. Tools for social change and a rise in connections between people, near and far. From here, the sky is the limit for sharers. New technology and apps will lift the sharing economy to the next level. Today’s disruptors will find themselves being disrupted in turn. Why do we need mediators like Airbnb and Uber if we can get in touch with suppliers directly for ourselves? Cut out the middlemen, not to mention the profit they make. The development of blockchain technology may well lead us to the point where we can bid platforms and networks — who run off with enormous profits — adieu, at last.

Would it not be wonderful if all the revenue of the sharing economy could be preserved for the actual participants of that economy? This has started to happen on a minor scale in so-called co-op platforms such as Stocksy (stock photography) and Coopify (for cleaners and handymen). They are standing up in protest to the big guns who do business unethically and tend to exploit their users to some extent. Power to the platform users, the doers of the sharing economy.

Soon, the sharing economy is going to have a significant effect on the economic system. Consumers become prosumers, with the sharing economy bringing new lifeblood to the well-worn model of homo economicus. In the sharing economy, the ideal person is a micro-entrepreneur who is deeply motivated to turn all his time, money, talent and possessions into money-makers. The sharing economy is about earning money too, then. Or, at the very least, asking for a decent fee for services rendered.

We simply have to wait and see if the sharing economy does shake up the economic order, spurring it on towards the creation of a more social, just society. A society where sharing, exchanging and (re)using are immediately beneficial to cooperating citizens and likeminded onlife consumers. A lot of these activities are part of the circular economy, too, where repair, reuse and recycle are the bywords. The years of boundless consuming and the harmful emissions are surely behind us. An awareness of the scarcity of natural resources can compel people into action and change. Others see a wealth of new opportunities appearing in the midst of all that (need for) change. Retailers in the sharing economy will be embracing new roles and innovative business models, which lead them firmly into the future, where – at the very least –  a responsibility for a more sustainable society is something we all share.

This is blog 17, based on my book ‘The end of online shopping. The future of retail in an always connected world’, published by Business Contact (Dutch/Flemish editions), Nubiz (English edition) Post & Telecom Publishers, Beijing (Chinese edition, from Q1 2018). The book will also be translated into Danish, German, Italian and Portuguese in 2018.