The rise and rise of online rental sites

Looking for the next big thing? Well here it is: online rental sites are coming to a website near you!

Humble Beginnings – Films and Fashion for Rent

The online marketplace is seeing the emergence of yet another business concept – the online rental site. These sites are like rental versions of eBay, where people can rent out their stuff. They are expanded versions of the successful Netflix and Bag Borrow or Steal business models. Netflix has been described as the Amazon of video rentals, while Bag Borrow or Steal has been operating for a number of years now, carving a strong niche for itself as the top bag and jewellery rental site.

Emerging Business Models for Rental Sites

Netflix and Bag Borrow or Steal, though, are individual companies that carry their own inventories. The likes of Paris-based Zilok and the German site Erento follow the eBay format more closely by providing the venue for providers to rent out their wares. Both are trying to take the renting business mainstream, riding on the current global financial crunch, and the growing consciousness for the environment. At the same time, these online rental companies are counting on a consumer paradigm shift from valuing ownership to valuing usage.

Why use Rental Sites?

  • Recycle, reuse. Rental sites promote usage of “stuff” that would otherwise be lying unused.
  • Make ongoing income from an item, rather than selling it for a one-off amount.
  • Less cost for customers during times of forced penny-pinching, encouraging repeat business.
  • Lower cost of maintaining inventories, since you don’t need to keep re-stocking.

Could online rental become another string in the bow of auction sellers struggling in the current credit crunch?


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