On-Demand mixed with the gig-economy is coming for your small business in ways you might not have expected in 2017. On-Demand delivery has grown larger each year as a result of the booming gig-economy. For those who don’t know, a business that participates in the gig-economy is a business that hires individuals to be independent contractors or workers for the parent company. The individuals are not employed directly by the business, but instead serve as private contractors using their own resources and taking a revenue share from the business.

A study by Intuit states that by 2020 7.6 million Americans will be regularly working in the on-demand economy. That is more than double the current number of people working for these companies. If you think you haven’t used one of these companies before you are more than likely mistaken. Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, AirBnB, Grubhub, TaskRabbit, etc., the list goes on and on. There are over 100 substantial on-demand based corporations in America today.

So how is this going to affect my business? One major way is in expectation of service. For instance, take businesses like Postmates, Instacart, Grubhub, etc., if you own a restaurant and refuse to accept Postmates or Grubhub as a partner to deliver your food you will lose customers because people go to Postmates to decide what to eat for dinner. Let us say for instance you run the best Thai restaurant in town, and John Smith is at home ready to curl up in his couch, binge watch some Netflix and wants nothing more than to order Thai for dinner. Naturally John wants to eat your Thai food because it’s the best. He excitedly fires up the Postmates app and plugs in your business name. It isn’t there, but Postmates offers a bevy of other Thai options.

John has a choice to make. One he can get off the couch, pause his binging experience, drive to your Thai restaurant, order, wait, drive back, and then eat your food; or, he can order the 2nd best Thai food. Guess what he is going to do? Yeah, you just lost John as a customer, maybe forever. This is the way the world is moving. It is all about getting what you want now, because time is money and people are not willing to wait very long to get what they want.

Restaurants are not the only business affected by this. Retail, especially ecommerce is going to get hit by the gig/on-demand economy hard. Amazon Prime is now a household name. Amazon became the biggest retailer on earth after it surpassed Wal-Mart in 2015. That being said, nearly anything can be delivered to your door within 2 business days. In many metro areas you can get same day delivery. In Seattle you can use Amazon Prime Now, to get many items within 1 hour. So let’s take the same Netflix binging, Thai loving, millennial, John Smith and say this time you own a website where you sell your handmade Chunky Knit blankets. John wants to get one for his sister for the holidays. He searches online, and through the billions of websites out there John finds yours. You have just what he wants, but your shipping now says 5-7 business days.

A few years ago this would have been normal. But things move fast and John’s perspective of acceptable shipping time has changed. Now your website seems less legitimate due to breaking the subconscious expectation John has about what a normal shipping time is. John hops on Amazon and find a similar product for 20% less with free 2-day shipping.

So what is the solution? For restaurants and retailers alike, it might be watch the trends like this one and understand how the mind of your customer changes and is effected by technology. Subscription services, Gig-Economy, On-Demand, all of these technology change the mind of the consumer and in effect what people want from your business. Don’t assume the way you do something today is the way you should be doing it tomorrow. Be open to change. Be willing to adapt to new technology. Don’t wait until technology forces you to change, be aware of changes so you can stay ahead of the curve. The world is changing faster than it ever has before and it will not stop. Great service used to mean the cashier at the grocery store knowing your name and greeting you with a smile, now it means there is no cashier at all. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the next move from the world’s largest retailer, view Amazon Go.

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Categories: Be Your Own CEO, Small Business Advice