The rise of on-demand services that let you get what you want, when you want it.
Instant gratification has never seen stronger demand. Drones provide same-day delivery of online purchases and cars can bring kittens to our workplaces sometimes within hours of adopting one. From rentable wearables to on-demand services, startups are embracing this ask-what-you-want-and-you-shall-receive-it consumer mindset.
But is just another internet fad?
Not according to some venture capitalists and millennial trendwatchers.
Investors have committed more than $4.8 billion to on-demand service companies, such as transportation juggernaut Uber and food delivery service grubHub, with over $2 billion of funding in just the past year alone.
“I don’t think the desire for convenience is new,” said Taylor Davidson, Managing Director at Unstructured Ventures.
“When the Web first came out, we saw a bunch of delivery services back then,” he told iQ. “That notion of convenience is something that has come up from the very beginning and the desire for [it] has always been there. Technology is really driving this [trend].”
This is especially true when it comes to mobile technologies. Whether it’s allowed shoppers immediate access to inventory or available services or the ability for shoppers to share relevant information, such as past purchases of current location, mobile has unlocked new potential for on-demand businesses.
By simplifying many of the inputs required for them to function, including payment information, services are able to reach a vast number of consumers much more efficiently.
“New services come out because technology has made it possible to do things that we couldn’t do before,” said Davidson.
“Technology changes what types of services you get and to what level or degree you can get them.”
According to the most recent Cassandra Report, mobile is particularly vital in forming a more personal, digital relationship with consumers. And for many consumers, these so-called eLationships are just as important as the ones they maintain in real life.
“Access is about efficiency, but also the ability to have eLationships, even relationships with people and things we don’t know well,” explained Jamie Gutfreund, CMO of Deep Focus and the author of the Cassandra Report.
“When you have a relationship, you can do business.”
Gutfreud said that digital technologies, especially personal devices, have shifted the way consumers discover and interact with products online and in real-life, a line that in many ways has lost distinction in the lives of millennials and just about everyone else.
“There is no serendipity,” she said. “[We] search for everything first and explore all of [our] options before buying.”
Similarly, businesses are embracing new methods of reaching consumers, especially within the on-demand economy.
For instance, Best Buy has partnered with delivery service Wunwun to provide customers with one-hour deliveries.
“Best Buy realized customers wanted convenience, the convenience of delivery,” Wunwun cofounder and CEO Lee Hnetinka recently told Fast Company.
“What Wunwun does is it brings the convenience of ordering online with the immediacy and love of offline.”
These on-demand services are spreading to new areas, creating a marketplace of (almost) anything-as-a-service.
Here are 6 other on-demand services to help with (almost) every aspect of your life.
You may have heard of Rent the Runway, an online rental service for designer dresses and accessories, but what if you wanted to spruce up your day-to-day wardrobe?
Le Tote is a fashion rental service for women that provides unlimited, everyday apparel and accessories for $49 per month.
“The crux of the idea is to create a massive shared closet that people can use nationwide,” explained co-founder Brett Northart.
Le Tote sends a curated box with three garments and two accessories to customers, who can keep the items for as long or as short as they want. As soon as the items are returned, stylists immediately send the next shipment.
To ensure each box is customized for the shopper, the company built a style-and-fit algorithm; it evolves with a shopper’s taste and size, based on feedback she provides for each garment.
“We see the future of commerce is personalization,” Northart said. “That’s why we’re so focused on our model—because I think we’re able to collect so much rich data on our customers and provide them a truly customized experience.”
In-Home Happy Hour
Whether you’re snowed in or just want to stay in, Minibar brings the bar to you.
The website and mobile app offers one-hour wine and spirit delivery in 13 different cities.
If you’re short on ice, cups or other drink essentials, Minibar can hook you up with those, too.
In select cities, the app even offers a party planner tool, complete with “Book a Bartender” options.
While not everyone can become America’s next Top Chef, Blue Apron certainly helps you try.
For $9.99 per person, per meal, the DIY food subscription service delivers step-by-step recipes (like Za’atar-Spiced Steaks and Italian Wedding Soup) and portioned ingredients.
The meals vary week-to-week, and while users aren’t able to select which recipes they want, they can enter in dietary preferences to help customize deliveries.
Then there’s Kitchensurfing, a service that lets users search and hire personal chefs for dinner parties of up to 30 guests, starting at $50 per person.
“For the chef, it’s the opportunity to cook their own food, to engage directly with their customers instead of being locked in a kitchen,” Kitchensurfing founder Chris Muscarella told Mashable.
“[For the customer, it’s about] the opportunity to have a little more intimate conversation than they might by being in public.”
Feeling Under the Weather?
Doctor on Demand brings the knowledge of medical care professionals directly to your living room.
According to Dr. Ian Tong, of the top 20 problems patients go into the ER or urgent care for, probably 18 out of 20 could be treated through our model with Doctor on Demand.
The service, co-founded by TV host Dr. Phil, lets users consult with doctors, psychologists or other clinical experts via video on a mobile device or computer.
With high-tech services empowering consumers to get seemingly anything at the click of a button or a swipe on their phone, Davidson says it’s important for these startups to understand where they fit within the marketplace and how technology is changing if they’re going to succeed.
“Technologies are changing the way humans and machines interact,” he said. “That’s going to change the scope for a lot of the personalized services out there. As new technologies come out, we need to pay attention to them.”
It seems the anything-as-a-service trend will only accelerate in the near-term future. That’s why trips-to-space-as-a-service is no longer just pie in the sky.