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The Unbundled Economy

During a breakfast meeting in New York this week, I couldn’t help admire my dining companion’s shoes—so much so that I tried to buy them on Amazon.com while walking to my next meeting. Sold out.

It seemed like a good time to try a personal shopping app, PS Dept, that promises to search the Internet for a variety of fashion items and then deliver them to you. I’ve been skeptical these services can live up to their promise and resisted using them out of fear of feeling lazy. How hard is it to search online yourself, after all? But I was really keen to get those black Nike high tops.

I sent a message with a picture of the shoes to a personal shopper via the app and walked into my next meeting. When I came out, I had a message from the shopper, coincidentally named Jessica L. “Out of stock but here’s a similar pair.” Her suggestion was a little too fancy for my taste, and she came back with another. I clicked buy, entered my credit card and agreed to a six percent “tip”. They’re scheduled to arrive in a few days.

Then it struck me. I have no idea where these shoes are coming from (Macys? Amazon? Nike.com?), and I don’t much care. PS Dept’s technology can identify and access them —unbundle them if you will—from their traditional aggregator, here, the store.

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