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On-Demand Apps


In a world where we are used to getting things when we want them, on-demand apps have become a godsend.  Whether we want feeding, a gift or a ride, we have become accustomed to using on demand applications on our mobile devices and getting the things we want almost immediately. The market for on-demand apps is growing – but are they as helpful as we would like, or are they actually restricting our freedom to shop around?

What Is an On Demand App?

An on-demand app is a smartphone app that acts as a mediator between a customer and a business. Prime examples are the Just Eat app, or Uber. Rather than calling, messaging or visiting a business in-person, you simply fire up your on-demand app, place your order, and wait for your goods or chauffeur to arrive. 

Put simply, on-demand apps connect consumers with service or product suppliers and cover an increasing number of categories, including food delivery, beauty, accommodation, deliveries, transport, and education.  

The point of an on-demand app is to seamlessly connect two interested parties – business and consumer – to ensure that both are satisfied. Many of the new generation of on-demand apps also seek feedback from the consumer to establish how well they believe they have been served. This feedback is then used to make the app and the service even more convenient for the user. 

How Do On-Demand Apps work?

On-Demand Apps

While there may be some subtle differences between how individual on-demand apps actually work, they all follow a similar format, usually something along the lines of the following:

  • The user opens the app and places a request for products or service
  • The app connects them with the service provider
  • The provider checks the request and either accepts or rejects it 
  • The payment is authorized (most on-demand apps require users to create an account on first use, from then on payment is quick and streamlined) 
  • The provider delivers the product or service
  • The customer confirms that the delivery has occurred and that they are happy with it
  • The agreed payment is deducted 
  • Feedback on the product, service, or overall experience is requested

So, an on demand application typically requires a series of distinct actions to be completed. They usually require the user to set up and log into an account, which can be verified via password or biometrics, and some form of payment option.  In many cases, such as with food delivery, the payment is taken before the service is provided – mostly to ensure that the customer is genuine and that they have actually ordered (and want) the delivery.  

In other cases, such as with hired travel or restaurant bookings, the customer is present for the duration of the service being delivered and payment is usually taken once the service has been completed. In a third scenario, usually associated with room bookings, the payment may be taken before the room has actually been taken, giving the customer comfort in the knowledge that their room is secured. 

In the case where a dispute occurs – the room may not meet its advertised standard, or extenuating circumstances (such as a national or international lockdown) – the customer usually has to start a refund process via the app, but may not get their money back for some time.  

On-demand applications of this nature typically include a feedback loop from both sides – if the provider has failed to produce or deliver what was required and as was advertised, the customer may leave negative feedback that is observable by other potential customers.  Therefore, negative feedback can have a huge impact on a business.

On-demand Apps: It’s all about the advertising.

There is no denying that, thanks to strong on-demand app development, on demand service apps are highly effective at what they do and are a valuable addition to any smartphone suite. But, with a growing number of them available for Android and iOS, the developer has to make sure that theirs is downloaded.  

This becomes an advertising and marketing issue for the app developer as, while their app may be of higher quality than its competitors, customers are generally fickle and are likely to download the on-demand app that they are most familiar with, with little regard for its features or usability. That familiarity is usually a product of the advertising and marketing that the app has undergone. 

The Just Eat app is a prime example of an on-demand app in the food ordering and delivery space with millions of downloads around the world. It is subject to an enormous advertising campaign, featuring well-known celebrities. 

However, the app isn’t necessarily the best one in the field, and users might find that while it offers them a pretty decent range of takeout choices, they might save a little money by using alternatives or even apps created by individual eating establishments themselves.

However, many users will point towards the sheer convenience of such an on-demand app over the alternatives, and point out that it offers a choice that others don’t.  Advocates will also indicate that apps of this nature offer almost everything in one place, and are a must for our busy lifestyles. 

Whatever the arguments for and against, undoubtedly on-demand apps of this type are a huge success, and becoming increasingly so during these times when we can’t get out to a restaurant. The success of this app in particular is very much due to its strong advertising campaign.

Getting There: Transport On-Demand Apps

The on-demand apps associated with personal travel work in a very similar way. Uber – one of the biggest ride-hailing services – has an on-demand app that requires a personal account to use and allows the user to select their driver from a map of available drivers near them. 

The driver is then informed of the request and goes to pick the client up. The client is informed – via the app – of the registration of the car coming for them to prevent them stepping into a car that isn’t their Uber vehicle. The journey is then made, and payment completed at the end.

In practice, it’s all very simple and convenient and has proven to be hugely disruptive to the traditional taxi industry. In fact, this is a model that works so well that it will undoubtedly be used in autonomous car hire, trials of which are now taking place in some cities. 

On demand apps are also becoming increasingly popular for the growing array of city bikes and scooters that can be hired for short journeys or even per day from stands spread around city centers.  With the app downloaded and an account registered, the user can use a localized map to find banks of bicycles which can then be hired for a small charge. 

Payment allows the bike to be unlocked from the docking station and ridden to wherever the person wants to go and returned to another docking station later. City center scooters are slightly different in that payment electronically unlocks the rear wheel. The devices can be picked up wherever the previous user left them and, similarly, can be left where the current user wants to get off, with completion of the journey relocking the rear wheel.

On-Demand Apps: The Future

If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we need on-demand apps to smooth our lives.  They allow us to carry out a number of functions that would be otherwise difficult to do when movement is restricted. They simplify the process of obtaining goods and services and are only going to become bigger features in our increasingly complex lives. As they stand, on-demand apps already deliver good services effectively. 

However, there are still many industries in which on-demand apps have not yet been taken up – though this will likely change. The transactional value of on-demand apps coupled with their low maintenance and running costs make them ideal for almost any industry where a service can be delivered by a third party. 

The on-demand app market is estimated to be worth $335 billion worldwide by 2025. This is a system that has captured the imagination of the public and will continue to grow as more industries take it up as a business model.

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