Building apps and services for lazy people is one area the tech industry is quite good at.
2014 was a big year for getting everything you could want from the comfort of your smartphone. We found plenty of these services in Y Combinator’s Summer 2014 class. But next year is going to get even lazier. Here are five areas in which on-demand is going to explode and/or take over the traditional way we’ve done things:
Seamless and GrubHub have been around for quite a while, enabling busy corporate America workers and others to get their food delivered, but the past year has taken food delivery to a new level. Wunwun launched in San Francisco after making a killing in New York City. San Francisco-based rival Postmates launched an API after racking up 36,000 restaurants as customers. Countless startups for cooking and delivering hot meals cropped up to feed those who are too busy and weary of take-out food. Instacart, the grocery delivery startup that was recently rumored to be raising more than $100 million in new funding, had a banner year.
Food is becoming an important on-demand market, and delivery has become necessary for restaurants and grocery stores to stay competitive. Look for this to become even more true in 2015.
TaskRabbit did the world a favor by saving us from assembling our own Ikea furniture. Then we got on-demand housecleaning from HomeJoy, Exec, and Handy (formerly HandyBook), which lets customers book all kinds of home-related services. Taking care of your home hasn’t been the same since.
But beyond the small renovations and services like cleaning and lawn care, more serious renovations are also becoming easier and easier to book and manage. Companies like Pro.com and Porch.com are making it easier for homeowners to book even a whole remodel with a few keystrokes. Even Amazon has started to offer certain services to customers who purchase home improvement items, such as shelf installations. These companies, both narrower services like HomeJoy and broader ones like Pro.com, are bringing home professionals under their own brands and umbrellas, saving customers the headache of finding professionals — something people may prefer and expect more and more.
Retail same-day delivery
Thanks to Amazon, same-day delivery has become a must in retail. Amazon gave us two-day shipping for Prime members, then AmazonFresh started to deliver groceries from local stores as well as some same-day items where available. Waiting for anything to be delivered later than that has become a drag and borderline bad service.
Same-day delivery has also contributed to Postmates’ rise. Customers can purchase an item from a store and commission Postmates to pick it up, or even have the courier purchase and deliver the item. Deliv offers a similar service, and Curbside helps folks skip the actual store by letting them pick up prepaid items at a counter or just outside. Just like food providers, retailers need same-day delivery in order to compete, or else shoppers might defect to Amazon and other e-tailers even more. So get ready to see more and more of them adding this as an option.
Earlier in 2014, parking apps were all about buying and selling street parking spots, something that wasn’t rightfully — or legally — people’s to buy and sell. But not too long after, a crop of startups including Luxe Valet, Zirx, ValetAnywhere, and Vatler appealed to every driver in busy cities like San Francisco with a simple proposition: on-demand valet parking from wherever is convenient. Freeing drivers from looking for parking near their destination and offering the convenience of handing off their cars just in front of their destination became a very popular new experience — just look at all the money investors have thrown into these companies whose product they undoubtedly use.
And SpotHero, a three-year-old company, finally made its way to San Francisco. Unlike the on-demand valet parking apps, SpotHero makes drivers park their own car in private lots and garages they book and pay for through the app. But SpotHero also shone the spotlight on parking inventory, the aspect of the parking that will make some and break others. Just as companies like Lyft and Uber are duking it out by racking up (and poaching) as many drivers as they can, the parking apps will be racing to grab as much inventory as possible.
Ordering a hairstyling appointment, makeover, or even a massage might seem frivolous to most folks, but it’s quite a life-saver for those who use those services on a regular basis. Glamsquad lets customers order a visit from a beauty professional, Unwind Me and Zeel will bring a massage therapist to their door, and StyleSeat is like an OpenTable for booking all kinds of beauty services nearby.
These services are already on the luxury end of things, so making them on-demand, sometimes for an extra fee, is really not a big deal. The woman paying $80 for a blowout probably won’t have a problem paying an extra fee to have it come to her. People spending money regularly on massages won’t mind adding a few bucks for a relaxation session in their living room. And as these professionals look to these marketplaces more and more to fill up their hours and broaden their clientele, these are sure to grow even more.