I stopped and paused one night last week after reality set in. I had just arrived home from work, and a beautifully packaged box from Blue Apron sat at my front door. The next five minutes were spent unpacking pre-portioned, fresh ingredients that I was about to use to cook dinner. It was unlike any other food delivery service I’d used before.
The cooking began. I was chopping herbs, and my husband was mashing the potatoes when he received a text message from Washio informing him that the driver was waiting outside to deliver our dry cleaning. We couldn’t help but think “this on-demand thing is kinda cool.”
The On-Demand Economy
Today’s on-demand economy is revolutionizing the behavior of both companies and consumers. Living in San Francisco, I am at the forefront of this new so-called life. Just about anything can be delivered within a few hours, and I’m among the many consumers wholeheartedly embracing it.
Of course, there’s always going to be those who think otherwise. The Kernal wrote a great piece regarding the on-demand economy.
When I casually polled my friends—the ones not affiliated with the tech industry—about what they think about the service economy and on-demand startups, they echoed feelings of distrust, but all for different reasons and at varying degrees. For one from New York, it comes down to safety. “The risk of getting hurt or raped is too high,” she said. “That fucks up your life forever. I’d rather feel safe, wait longer, pay more. Time and money are less valuable to me than my safety.”
I found this quite interesting. Something as natural as getting in the car and driving to the grocery store isn’t even safe. Driving in general is the single most dangerous activity we perform on a day-to-day basis. So, do you feel safer driving to the store yourself, or meeting an Instacart driver outside your home to pick up your groceries? Which is safer?
Safety is definitely one point. How about convenience? Another article by The Kernal discusses exactly how convenient the on-demand economy is.
The on-demand economy has commodified convenience. With the tap of a button, food from restaurants that don’t deliver can be at your door in 45 minutes (soon by drone); laundry is picked up, washed, and folded at your demand; parking tickets are fixed without ever having to get back in your car to contest them. All of life’s minor inconveniences are handled, with the added benefit of feeling pampered by a veritable cadre of personal valets.
Safety, convenience, and lawsuits aside, the on-demand economy has created millions of jobs, and there’s no denying that this is extremely advantageous to everyone. Students can become Lyft drivers while putting themselves through college and graduate debt free. Millennial entrepreneurs can put all their time and effort into their dream startup and supplement their income by renting out their car on Getaround. Those with seasonal jobs can be hired for a range of different things via Taskrabbit. On-demand jobs are in abundance, and it’s just wild after what we experienced back in 2008.
It was only a year later that Uber launched, and since then has helped make a huge dent in today’s economic growth. It’s no wonder so many of these on-demand companies are calling themselves “the Uber of (blank).”
What about the future? Will this on-demand economy result in something big enough to put enough people to work and create a living wage? Or is it just going to work for some?
I’m not sure. But I am excited to live it — this so-called life.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.