Having an app has almost become necessary for most businesses, whether they are engaged in trade or services. An online presence can add to your brand equity and bring in more revenues. In some businesses, online mode of orders had surpassed the offline traffic long back.
The year 2020 was a watershed moment in the lives of everyone on this planet when the businesses, restaurants, hotels, theatres, schools, everything shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions. The offline or physical world came to a standstill and streets wore a deserted look. This was the time when on-demand mobile apps powered by mobile internet and strong logistics came to aid and rescue common citizens and governments alike.
As we open-up in 2021, there will be some pent-up urge among people to go out and physically buy things in the stores, but the convenience and ease that they have become used to with on-demand apps is not going to go away.
Therefore, in 2021 and beyond, it will be increasingly difficult to operate a successful business without an on-demand mobile app and its convenience to users. Many large, medium and small corporations, store owners, chains, and service providers are investing in cutting-edge mobile app solutions. This is helping them get their services & products reach the right customers, whenever they demand, wherever they demand.
Market Statistics confirm the trend
If you are sceptical and don’t believe what someone says, then that is the right mindset for a rational and reasonable businessperson. There are many surveys, reports, and research that highlight the benefits the on-demand economy is bringing to providers, consumers, employees, and the economic environment.
The on-demand economy is not something done in isolation, but it integrates the many separate and different components of the economic value chain. It offers new and a wide range of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs, resulting in innovation and growth.
Consumers get options, competition, and as a result high-quality services and products at most affordable prices. They also get the delivery, after-sales services, and quality faster, better, for lesser price.
On-demand economy helps in better and optimal utilization of resources where you need to carry too much in stock if everything can be made available on-demand. The logistics, transportation, customer care, services, and other professionals get the maximum advantage for their unique talents as there are more full-time and gig employment opportunities.
- Statista reports that there were more than 3.5 billion smartphone users by end-2020 and there will be around 3.8 billion users by 2021. From 2016 to 2021, the CAGR in smartphone users has been 8.73%, which was a stunning 18.72% in the previous five-year period from 2012 to 2016.
- Research firm Sensor Tower claimed that Apple and Google both saw a phenomenal increase in first-time installs, as they set a new record in 2020. The collective downloads crossed 143 billion, increasing by 23.7% from 2019 at 115.5 billion.
- A report published in Business2Community cites a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study that revealed the on-demand economy adds more than 22.4 million consumers worldwide each year for the last 4 years in row, who spend around USD 57.6 billion annually.
- As per another HBR report, almost half of on-demand app users, at 49%, are millennials, whereas the age group 35-55 comprised of another 30% among the rest. That makes almost four-fifths of all users of on-demand apps belong to working population between 20 and 55 years.
- According to the PwC research, published by Bloomberg Quint, only the on-demand entertainment and media industry will grow at a CAGR of 10.1% to cross the USD 55 billion mark by 2024. And that on only one segment of the overall on-demand economy!
- A report published in business magazine Business Wire, citing from new study and forecast from Intuit Inc. and Emergent Research, throws up some interesting facts:
- By 2020, around 7.6 million Americans, double than the current 3.2 million, will work as providers at some level in the on-demand economy.
- Almost four-fifths of existing users in the on-demand economy work as gig or part-time workers.
- On-demand workforce market is set to grow at 18.5% CAGR for the next five years till 204.
- On-demand food delivery market hit $161.74 Billion by 2023.
- The global on-demand education market was at USD 187.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to cross USD 319 billion by 2025, a CAGR of more than 9%.
- 2020 saw the biggest jump in services of the on-demand industry, according to CBInsights. It reported that out of 310 global start-ups with valuations of USD 1 billion, 23 were from the on-demand economy.
- As per a Morgan Stanley survey report, on-demand food delivery apps are set to grow their revenues at 11% annually, till 2022. According to another report from Statista, revenue from this industry was upwards of USD 122 billion in 2020.
- The global on-demand healthcare market generated a revenue of USD 73 billion in 2017 as per reports from PS Market research. The same industry touched a growth rate of close to 20% in 2020 according to a study by healthcare Finance.
- According to Statista, the video-on-demand or VOD industry earned close to USD 72.48 billion in 2020 and is set to increase at 18.5% in 2021 to cross 85.8 billion in 2021! The CAGR for the period 2021-25 is projected to be 10.25 and estimated revenue for 2025 are a staggering USD 1256.5 billion.
What are On-demand apps?
On-demand mobile apps are digital marketplaces offering users instant access to service, products and information. These marketplaces are designed to on-board multiple providers who offer quick delivery so that customers can access whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.
Most prominent examples of on-demand marketplaces are Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Uber eats, Netflix, Amazon Prime, DoorDash, Washio, Filld, Coursera, which are providing a host of products and services to providers, consumers, and intermediaries.
Many industries from manufacturing to tourism, from finance to education, and from recruitment to real-estate are leveraging on-demand mobile apps. Fuel is being delivered to parking lot, cares are taken for cleaning and returned, one can attend world-class courses from professors at top-notch universities from anywhere in the world, and the entertainment has become truly global.
Many traditional businesses have successfully transitioned themselves to this new online on-demand business model – like hotel & restaurants, education, and financial services. There have been new and innovative business models that have come just because the mobile app ecosystem is now thriving – like Airbnb, Uber, VistaJet, and TaskRabbit.
The customers have been the fastest to adopt the changes as this gave them more options, opportunities, and greater value for money. Instead of waiting at home or office for the serviceperson or delivery person to come at scheduled time, you can now schedule your service or delivery times as per your plans.
The convenience of doorstep delivery, best quality, secure online payments, cashback & discounts, and notifications & ratings gave the real power in the hands of consumers.
Main Features of on-demand apps making them popular
There are many features that a successful on-demand app must-have for consumers, providers and for service delivery partners, in order to make it an acceptable solution for all their needs. Some of these features are common to all three categories of users, and some of them need to be provided to only one or two of them.
Let us discuss some major features that an on-demand app must have:
With push notifications an on-demand app can alert a customer about their scheduled delivery of product or service, order status, cashback & discounts earned, payments due, ratings and new promotions.
The providers get alerts about new orders that can be integrated with their order processing system & inventory systems, trach their scheduled deliveries, pick-ups, and customer reviews.
Finally, the service delivery partners can check their new assignments and instructions, the amount of service charges applicable to them, and new opportunities to work and earn more during the peak hours & seasons.
A GPS-enabled integrated tracking system allows the customers and providers to track the shipping of their packages from the pick-up point to the delivery point, movement of cab by parents if their kids are travelling alone, and ETA for service delivery partner for pick-up or delivery.
For the service delivery partners, a GPS-based tracking system acts as a navigation tool that guides them in even the most complex maze of streets, even in remote and distant areas so that they can timely reach their destination and deliver the package or service.
Appointment booking or scheduling facility:
The on-demand apps must offer instant delivery as well as scheduling features for the delivery of the product or service. The customer can schedule for any time delivery of their package or service, and barring some jurisdictions, the 24/7 delivery model allows providers and partners to deliver them round the clock. However, for service delivery in odd or peak hours, the customers may be charged additional fees that they must pay.
Secure payment gateway integration:
If an on-demand app does not provide multiple secure modes of online or mobile-wallet based payments, then it is considered to be incomplete. The biggest convenience and trust factor between the users, the providers, and the delivery partners is that the app acts as a trusted fiduciary between all of them for secure payment facilities.
Ratings, reviews, and feedback:
On-demand mobile apps must provide a three-way or at -least a two-way rating, review, and feedback system. Customers can use the ratings and reviews from previous customers to order from a provider, they can report misbehaviour or delay by a delivery partner in a formal capacity and get immediate redressal of their problems.
Similarly, the delivery partners or providers can also give review or rating to customers for their irate behaviour, thereby helping other providers to deal with them effectively. The ratings and feedback features can also be used to improve app functionality.
Transaction history and integrated wallet:
All on-demand apps must provide detailed order and transaction history for providers, customers, and delivery partners. This can be very helpful in settling accounts every week or month, as well as settle any disputes in case of a failed service or payment.
An integrated mobile wallet can speed up the online payments to all orders made on the app, as well it can act as your wallet to be used for other apps and websites also. The providers can offer special discounts and cashback that will be credited to your wallet, in addition to refunds.
Benefits that on-demand apps offer
There are many benefits that on-demand apps offer to businesses – both traditional and new-age – to survive, thrive, and flourish in the knowledge and connected economic era. When you use on-demand mobile apps, you can help grow your business in many ways.
Scalability means the ability to deliver services to a large number of consumers within a short period of time, or the ability to handle the 5 to 20 times rush in demand for your services.
On-demand apps, especially for digital services like OTT entertainment, gaming, healthcare consultation, education & training, rank very high on scalability. The use of scalable cloud infrastructure and servers allows these apps to be highly scalable, without compromising their security and privacy.
Access New & Remote Markets:
On-demand apps can provide access to new and remote markets to businesses that were catering to a very limited and localized clientele earlier. You can explore new markets and increase your revenue by offering services in those markets. The dynamic pricing and delivery fee system also allow you to set a fee that is neither loss-making to you, nor is it unaffordable to the users.
These marketplaces showcase businesses with the highest rating serving in your area, therefore allowing customers to order from them, rewarding excellent service, and increasing competition among less than excellent providers.
Improve Business Practices:
Ratings, reviews, and feedback allow each business to improve its practices over time. The on-demand app can curate and provide insights to business on their marketplace to help them adopt best business practices to cut costs, improve productivity, and get more favourable customer reviews.
Enhance Employee Productivity:
Most of the time the employees in an establishment wait for customers who all come at some specific times – lunch hour near office complexes, evenings in shopping districts, weekends at malls, etc. even if the employees are utilized in some other work, they still remain idle for many hours at a stretch. With on-demand orders coming in, you can increase the productivity per employee, by utilizing them in order fulfilment.
On-boarding your business on an on-demand marketplace is very cost-effective and sometimes there is no upfront cost to set up shop there. The entire process of on-demand app development for new startup is also cost-effective.
Our specialist app developers, UI/UX engineers, experienced QA engineers, and AI-engineers all work under an approachable Project manager who is answerable directly to you. You also have the option to launch your idea using a readymade off-the-shelf app or a highly customized app.
The biggest draw for customers towards on-demand apps is the convenience and simplicity that these apps offer. Persons of all age and socio-economic class can use these apps with relative ease and get desired products & services delivered at their doorsteps.
With an increasing number of smartphone users with uninterrupted Internet connectivity through 4G and 5G connections, the apps are taking over the website and desktop applications. The mobile phone gives the users the freedom to order anything, anytime, from anywhere. Integrated mobile wallets offer a secure payment option to users, which is one more feather in the cap.
Higher Employee Satisfaction:
The order processing, inventory management, bank account integration, automatic labelling & printing, notifications, and many other innovative features in the business side of the on-demand apps make the lives of employees simpler.
With more revenues, they also get a heightened sense of accomplishment and job security. As a responsible business owner, you can share your profits with employees in the form of bonuses, further boosting their morale.
Explore New Business Opportunities:
On-demand apps are technology-driven solutions that increasingly use analytics, AI, and ML for providing best matchmaking services. The same technologies can offer newer insights to businesses to understand customer preferences, interests, and behaviour to make informed business decisions.
Some direct impacts of on-demand apps on your operations are:
- Data analytics can help improve business practices.
- Spread awareness on offers & discounts through push notifications.
- Leverage the integrated WhatsApp, email, and social media marketing.
- Engage with your customers on social media and directly.
- Build a personal ‘business-customer’ relationship and make them a loyal base.
- Boost conversion rates with referrals and rewards.
Industries benefiting from on-demand revolution
The on-demand economy has made rapid strides in different sectors in the recent past. Starting from urban transport to food & grocery delivery, from booking doctor’s appointments to booking doorstep salon services, the on-demand economy is gaining strength and pace.
The frontrunners Uber and Airbnb started a wave of innovation globally and the ripples have now turned into a tsunami of innovation. The impact is so much that Uber has now become a verb and an adjective defining the on-demand economy and ecosystems.
With Uberization of the economy, on-demand mobile app development has also gained pace to meet the rising demand for smart solutions and keep up with customer demands and business innovations.
ECommerce the original on-demand Online Marketplaces:
- According to eMarketer, the worldwide eCommerce revenue was in excess of USD 4 trillion in 2020 and is expected to grow at an impressive 27.6% to cross USD 5 trillion mark in 2021!
- The eCommerce industry has perfected the logistics, supply chain, last-mile delivery, payments, and fulfilment centre parts of a complex equation of the global market. These solutions are adopted to meet local needs and regulations and have been adopted by other industries.
- eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Alibaba, Flipkart, and Grofers now have global operations and still have the same zeal as startups and deep pockets of established conglomerates. Smaller players have either become vendors on these marketplaces or have started their own on-demand marketplaces were more local niche vendors are selling their wares to customers all over the world.
- Today eCommerce players deliver groceries, packaged food, stationery, home care, garments, electronics & mobile phones, and many more items daily to millions of customers.
- Online on-demand cab-hailing, car-pooling, taxi-pooling, cycle/bike/car rentals and pre-booking rides are some great features of the added to the urban local transport.
- The Uber, Ola, and Didi of the world have revolutionized the urban transport in the world with the need to own and maintain a personal vehicle now declining. The reliable services of their drivers at any time of the day and between any two points in the city limits have resulted in fewer cars on the road and more passengers for the drivers. The carpooling features allow more passengers per vehicle making them an eco-friendly option.
- The cycle, car, and bike rental companies like Zoomcar, Revel, CityScoot, and felyx, are changing the landscape with their rentals. The customers are leasing this on-demand for single rides or for longer durations of six to twelve months as per their needs.
The financial services sector took on the tech revolution in a big way and now Fintech is considered not a fringe but a mainstream vertical of the industry. There are many on-demand services such as insurance, bank services, payments, credit reports, loans & credit cards, and securities markets that have been transformed totally. The apps from Fintech players offer efficient, prompt, and cost-effective services on the back of existing financial infrastructure in an economy.
Recruitments and Jobs:
The gig-economy, as it is popularly called, offers numerous job opportunities for people who are either unwilling to work in the usual 9-to-5 cycle or want to supplement their incomes with aside work. The on-demand providers need a regular supply of a reliable and increasing number of drivers & delivery partners, and specialists such as doctors, plumbers, beauty experts, fitness trainers, financial services partners. These gig workers can visit the customer at their place and time of choice and deliver the services ordered.
Learning, education, and training:
The on-demand apps running on smartphones have changed the landscape of learning and education. Now even students in an Indian village can access the online live or recorded classes of an Oxford professor on quantum physics.
The true democratization of education and training is underway where a learner can watch lessons online, practice her assignments, and interact with peers and teachers from across the world. Corporate training and development programs can also be developed and delivered from one centre to all locations anywhere in the world. The executives can watch the lessons on-demand elearning app for more practice and clarity.
With on-demand urban transport, on-demand food delivery grew and took off as there was always a demand for food delivery by professionals at offices, singles in dorm rooms, and families who did not want to go out, but order in. Students and professionals located in a different city than their hometown and chefs of novel or traditional recipes can now meet online and fulfil their respective desires.
Popular on-demand food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, Doordash, Swiggy, and Zomato are now also delivering your personal packages with the same efficiency and speed as they were your food.
Healthcare and medicines:
On-demand healthcare has many facets – telemedicine, online consultation, appointments booking, diagnostics test booking and sample collection, medicine delivery, alternate therapies, home visits, and home care. Many mobile apps are providing one or more of these services to clients all across the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw the biggest spike in use of these services as patients were scared of visiting hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. Now governments are also promoting on-demand healthcare services with proper and enabling regulations to provide best quality healthcare with minimal trouble to the patients. Electronic healthcare records are now considered acceptable by insurance companies for settlement of medical insurance claims.
Fuel and spares delivery:
There are times when you need fuel delivered on the spot as you ran out of it. Or in the case of many parts of the USA, Europe, Russia, and China, freezing temperatures may forbid elderly to go out and buy heating or auto fuel. In such cases, on-demand fuel delivery services such as Cafu or Filld can come to your rescue.
Similar to the fuel delivery market is the spares delivery market for automobiles that break down in the middle of nowhere and need emergency delivery of spares and possibly towing services. Some players are providing on-demand spares and towing services to all parts of a restricted geographical area. But as the demand is sparse and charges very high, these are yet to take off in a big way.
Car wash and auto-servicing:
Clean and serviced vehicles add to your efficiency and persona. Whether you do self-service or go to a service centre for it, car wash and servicing are time-consuming affairs. On-demand car wash servicing services pick-up your vehicle when you are at the office or away for a couple of days, clean it, service it, top-up the oil, change or clean filters, and check for basic problems. Once done, they return your car to your parking spot in a new condition. You can add the type of service you wish to get done and get an estimate on spares, and labour charges.
A report by Research and Markets suggests that logistics partners carried out almost 61% of all logistics in the USA and not company-owned trucks. The traditional logistics model required setting up of large shipping centres for truck fleets, cargo ships and cargo planes to load and unload the goods.
In the on-demand logistics solutions, the service provider can pick up and deliver goods in any quantity from your store, home, offices, or warehouse. The last-mile delivery with packaging services and temperature-controlled fleets can add value to your business as you no longer have to worry about this critical operation.
Logistics service providers now maintain drones, bikers, cars, and mini-trucks, in addition to the larger fleet vehicles for last-mile delivery.
Style, wellness, and beauty services:
If you are visiting another city for attending a personal or professional function, then looking at the top of your game is inevitable. Looking attractive and glamourous in the demand of the day, for all people.
In the home city, people still can manage to find a good salon and beauty expert to meet their needs, but in a different city, it is a challenge. The on-demand salon bookings & beauty services apps offer standardised but high-quality care to their patrons at any time, anywhere, and in any city. These services can include spa, massage, shampoo, pedicure, manicure, nail, hair, make-up and even stylist services.
Similarly, the fitness requirements of each person are unique and their booking for spa, personal trainer, or even gymnasium bookings can be done using an on-demand app.
Homecare, maintenance & housekeeping Services:
There are many requirements of a home from housekeeping to regular maintenance like plumbing & electric work, to larger projects like room extension or landscaping. Broadly these are the major categories in the on-demand homecare sector:
Repair and maintenance – plumber, electrical work, masonry, etc:
Homecare, design, and housekeeping – landscaping, interior or exterior design, home additions or modification, etc.
Health, caregiver, and wellness services – babysitters, elderly caregivers, home nurse, personal trainers, home tutors, etc.
Travel & tourism:
Travelling and tourism may have taken the biggest blow due to travel restrictions during COVID-19, but they are most likely to be the best sectors going forward. Before the COVID-19 restrictions, the travel and tourism sector took best advantage of the on-demand economy, from on-demand taxi to bed & breakfast services like Airbnb, from on-demand tourist guides to on-demand safari bookings, the tourism industry experimented with everything. Room booking, tickets, event passes, restaurant reservations, and many more were already a part of the gig economy that was made more organized by the on-demand ecosystem.
Laundry & dry-cleaning:
There is pressing demand for clothing and garment care services like laundry, dry-cleaning, and shoe care. A single person has to spend more than 4 hours per week doing laundry and collecting their suits from the dry cleaners. Similarly, proper shoe care for expensive footwear is very difficult to avail. On-demand apps are changing this landscape too by aligning the services of professional laundry services, dry-cleaners, and footwear services to provide a wholesome experience to travelling professionals or single students.
Entertainment, media, and gaming:
One of the biggest revenue churners for the on-demand economy after the eCommerce services are the entertainment, media, and gaming sectors. YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Hulu, PUBG, Bloodstone, Hatch, etc. are all prime examples of entertainment delivery on-demand. Some of these platforms are advertisement-based, some follow a freemium model, and many others require a monthly subscription to access the content. Some of the on-demand services also follow the pay-per-view model where the users can access specific content or a specific series, such as the NFL seasons.
As per the HBR survey, 50% of buyers found the desired property online and only 28% of buyers followed the traditional method of hiring a real estate agent. The real-estate sector has leveraged the on-demand apps to reach out to the end-customers directly.
The customized solutions for the real estate sector offer on-demand solutions for many services such as:
- No need for middlemen or brokers.
- Lower costs of hoke acquisition.
- A greater pool of properties to select from.
- No need for an on-site agent.
- Reduced need for too many on-site visits as virtual tours can show the property, locality, and amenities.
- Less time needed to sort through much more properties saving transportation costs and fewer breaks from work.
- Digital intent of offer, digital lease agreement and online deposit for security and rental.
- Real estate agents can also work with more clients and more property owners owing to scale of operations.
How to prepare your business for an on-demand economy?
The on-demand economy is knocking at our doors and it is incumbent on us to open them for this opportunity. In a short while, the on-demand app model of doing business is going to be the de-facto model of business in many sectors.
If you are not prepared for this drastic change, then not only your business may not thrive, but its very existence may also be in jeopardy. Here are some steps that you can follow to be future-ready.
Choose the industry:
On-demand business is more suitable for some industries than the others, and for some geographies than the others. Making the right choice in industry selection is imperative to start on a solid footing. The choice of industry must be dependent on your background, experience, capital needs, potential market, regulatory framework, and many other factors.
Business model and app idea :
An on-demand app is not the business itself, it is the backbone on which all the different limbs of the business will depend – store, production, customer, delivery partner, and so on. Therefore, identifying the business model is more important than starting with app development. Once the model is final and is suitably tweaked to accommodate an app, then you must start working on different features of the app.
Research market, customers, and competition:
The business idea may be novel and unique but is the market ready for it? Is the customer that you are targeting willing to pay for a service from you, if she can get similar service cheaper or for free? These are some pertinent questions, that you must have an answer to before you start your business venture. Sometimes, even replicating a successful global or national business model is also a good idea in local contexts, as you already have many answers and years of research backing them.
App features and tech-stack:
Now it is time to take stock with the help of a technical expert where you can identify and list many visible and hidden features of all the apps, web-applications and web-services that you will use. Once the list of such features, functionalities, and constraints is ready, you can begin to put together the tech-stack needed to develop the app.
Hire a reputed and reliable delivery partner:
Once you have all the answers to preliminary questions, the big question is who will develop your app? If you had the requisite technical expertise, you wouldn’t be reading this article!
Therefore, hiring a reputed, reliable, and experienced software services partner is necessary. It is not necessary that you hire software development companies locally in the USA, the UK, the EU, or in Australia or New Zealand.
Develop, Test and launch the App:
Once all pieces of the puzzle are available and facing you, it is only a matter of time that you put it together. Similarly, when all the elements are well-aligned the actual app development may take anywhere between 350 to 1,000 man-hours, depending on the scale and complexity of the app.
Live deployment and beta testing with a limited number of users will ensure that the app is functional and any glitches, if found, can be easily fixed. Once all QA parameters are met, you can launch the app in a soft or mega event and announce your arrival.
On-demand apps offer an efficient and effective way to service your clients and build a long and strong relationship with them. The main purpose of these apps is to act as the backbone controlling and carrying signals to different body parts of the business ecosystem – the store/production site, the distributors, delivery partners, and the customer.
With the integration of AI, Analytics, Data Visualization, and IoT, the prospects of on-demand apps seem brighter in the near future.