Despite logistical headaches and concern about how exactly their drivers are contracted, Uber has been and will likely to continue to be the disruptive innovator of the 2010s. Although most people think of the company as a taxi alternative, Uber maintains that it is a technology company, directly connecting those who are providing a service—in this case, rides to wherever you need to go with those who need it and those who don't want to deal with a taxi.
The business buzzword of the moment is to be the Uber of X, where X has become whatever concierge service or frustrating connection is needed in that moment. There are a variety of companies operating in major metropolitan areas, aiming to take our most pedestrian and frustrating tasks and either make them much more convenient, or remove them from our lives entirely.
Here are a few companies that, like Uber, are changing how we go about our daily lives.
During peak periods in western Australia, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find a taxi to take you from one place to another. While Uber has made waves with its business model in the U.S., Priority Pickup is changing how customers travel down under. Customers pre-book a pickup using Priority Pickup's customer friendly website, get confirmation, and know that their driver will be there when they need them. Nothing could be simpler!
Have you ever gotten ready to send someone a present, or agreed to be half of an internet swap, and then just had a horrible time getting your gift packaged and out the door? Shyp to the rescue! Currently active in LA, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, customers let Shyp know that they have an item that needs ot be shipped, and their work is done. No more worry about finding the right size box, or searching for packing materials, or figuring out who has the best shipping rates. Shyp takes care of it all.
If you thought having your groceries delivered was fancy, you need to know about Munchery. At first glance, this looks like just another delivery service, but the difference with Munchery is that instead of bringing you take-out from your local spot, Munchery can become a way of life. Delivering delectable meals created by expert chefs, the site publishes its menus so that users can sign up in advance of their trouble night and make sure food will be available for everyone who needs it.
Your Uber for X
In 2014, Digital Intelligence published a list of Uberified businesses. From wine delivery to bodyguards, there really does seem to be an Uber-type application for everything.
So what does all of this tell smart businesses? That customers want convenience. They have the world on their fingertips when they hold a smartphone, and they expect to find the world as easily accessible as it possibly can be. The genius of Uber wasn't about taxis; it was about recognizing inconvenience and finding a way to address it.
If you want to become the Uber of your industry, it's important to understand where the current pain points are in your industry. With taxis, for example, Uber required a two pronged approach; both the supplier of the service (taxi drivers) and the recipient of the service (riders) needed to be on board with the approach. Uber, therefore, had to create two different marketing programs, first convincing people that it was worthwhile to use their car for some extra cash, and then convincing other people that it would be a great idea to accept a ride from a stranger.
It may not be enough to simply deliver a product on-demand. Customers may want, for example, to know that you have a certain depth of wine selection, or that they can input a main course recipe and receive a wine that is specifically paired with their choice. Customers searching for last-minute childcare will want a certain level of assurance, such as background checks and oversight, that their children are safe with their care provider.
So far, most Uber-type solutions are primarily available in large metro areas, but as they become more popular, it is likely that both the service and the concept will continue to expand into the more rural areas of the United States.