Editorial: Gigs are up with Walmart announcement
A way to go to Walmart without actually going to Walmart? A chance to casually select ice cream, laundry detergent, half a pound of chipped ham, six frozen pizzas and a dozen bagels from a phone app and not worry about forgetting the ham while you come home with a DVD, a pair of pants and a cherry pie you didn’t mean to buy? Who wouldn’t want that?
But apart from the shopping experience, there’s another side to the story. No, not Walmart’s side. The person making the delivery.
Walmart is working with Point Pickup to actually take the items selected for you by a Walmart employee and drive them to your home.
Point Pickup was called an “on-demand, Uber-like delivery service” when it launched in Greenwich, Conn., in 2015.
It is another entry into the phone-fueled, app-based gig economy, like restaurant delivery services GrubHub and DoorDash or rideshare companies like Lyft and, yes, Uber. They link people who want to work with someone who needs a service via the easy bridge of a hand-held device.
The people behind the wheel in these situations aren’t employees. They are independent contractors, which gives them the freedom to work as much or as little on a given day as they want. That’s great. The downside is the uneasy unknowing of working without a net.
Intuit and Forbes have prognosticated that as our economy changes, becoming more creative and collaborative, more and more jobs will become gig-gy.
The government shutdown illustrates why that’s good — and bad.
Get furloughed or laid off from your day job and it’s great to have a gig back-up to pay the bills until you’re back on your feet. But at the same time, Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington, D.C., have reported that there are fewer rides to share with less money to go around.
There are great new services and conveniences available to us because of these economic changes. We just have to be aware of there pros and cons as they grow so that the workers in a gig economy aren’t the least important part of the equation.