If you're like me, you've looked around and have started to notice a boon in convenience services. Ostensibly, this is a corollary to VOD services made popular, in part, by companies like Netflix. This exponential rise in a consumer's ability to reach into the internet and pull out almost whatever they want presents an exciting outlook for the future of commerce. Part of what makes this so intriguing is how this will change our relationship with technology as a side effect. The ability to fully customize our experience of living is nearly here and the glut of concierge services -- in all aspects of our lives -- provides a prism through which that future is apparent.
There is enough evidence to suggest that the psychology of consumers is changing and probably has been for a while. Convenience is allowing for a more diverse, and ever specific, on demand landscape. Netflix reports subscribers in almost 40 countries. Odd job marketplace platforms TaskRabbit, HandyBook, and Thumbtack have raised a collective $126 million in funding so far. Seamless and Grub Hub (now one and the same) have given rise to grocery delivery services like Instacart and Caviar. An investment in the viability of these companies suggest confidence in this concierge marketplace that may not have existed before. Consumers are clearly ready to take their on-demand experiences far past the relatively passive experience of the entertainment ecosystem and more firmly into apparel and cuisine (Trunk Club and Plated, for instance). Subscription claims by these companies are sometimes dubious and other times inaccessible, but the simple fact that so many of them appear viable means that something is working.
There may be a wider window of opportunity for an apparel service to take off than, say, a pre-made meal delivery service of similar origins. Where your options are varied, but still restricted by the recipes that are available on Plated or Hello Fresh on a weekly basis. Trumaker, Bespoke Post, and Birchbox aren't bound to supply-chain challenges of the food service industry: sourcing fresh produce and meat, refrigeration and storage, and most of all: cost efficiency. This newly minted freedom from brick-and-mortar establishments or even the digital versions we shop on a regular basis is yet to truly hit a fever pitch, but it does allow a sense of independence and control that's sometimes hard to come by when shopping.
In the entertainment world, this type of business model has maintained a steady level of growth for the past 18 years. 1997 was the year that Netflix launched and with those first mail-order DVDs, the on-demand entertainment exchange was born. An argument can be made that QVC and HSN were truly the first iterations of the on-demand economy, but customizing our media consumption was something that, in 1997, was uncharted ground. With Amazon Prime content now winning Emmys, Netflix shows' continuing rise, and Hulu already beginning to gear up, HBO Go is ready to unbuckle from its cable TV parent creating yet another formidable player in the on-demand streaming marketplace.
We may be heading (hopefully) towards a future where your content is available to you a la carte, marginalizing larger cable companies and forcing more competition in the way that distribution is handled. Micro-economies employing delivery associates for the various food and meal delivery services may see a boom as well. What is sure is that the way that we interact with the things we want and with the shopping experience in general is never going back to the way it was.