While the benefits of gig work to the retail industry are plentiful, its introduction into the consumer goods industry took a previously simplistic model of supply and demand and created a nebulous definition of what it means to be a retailer, and to interact with a retailer.
Dark kitchens are an example of what happens when gig work outruns retail’s efforts to adapt to our technological age. As previously mentioned, restaurants often suffer from lapses in dining activity between lunch and dinner. Rather than pay for unused labor and dining space, many restaurants have opted to save money by placing kitchen staff in spaces that aren’t open to the public solely for the purpose of meeting delivery demands—these are called dark or “ghost” kitchens. When there are more people demanding delivery to their home and work addresses than walking through the restaurant’s front doors, waiters, waitresses, hosts, and floor managers become obsolete.
In the same vein, some gig work apps are attempting to approach standalone status by running their own virtual restaurants so that they don’t miss out on a cent of revenue. Rather than sharing profits with their food service partners, apps like UberEats are running their own dark kitchens. By utilizing a serviceless, faceless method such as this, gig work effectively transforms the service industry into a strictly retail operation.
Altogether, the gig economy and the retail industry are in the midst of combining to create something altogether new.