In the past ten years, the rapid expansion of the Internet, and the commerce of on-demand, has made rapid inroads into the way people do business. What started with going on to a website and buying a book so that you wouldn’t need to go to the store, has expanded into an entire culture based around getting what you need when you need it.
Some of the most successful companies of the last few years are those who’ve managed to really understand the frustrations of their audience, and revolutionize how they get what they need. Let’s look at a few examples.
There’s nothing more frustrating than needing a ride and being unable to find one, and Uber tapped into that desire to be able to press a button on our phone and have a ride appear. It also created an army of on-demand workers, a kind of freelance cab driving position. This let college students, irregular hour workers, and others who needed a way to make ends meet.
Uber also made it easy for people to pay for their rides when they don’t carry cash. Some taxis had incorporated the ability to pay with a debit or credit card, but Uber made it even easier by allowing you to pay with a phone, or split a fare with another rider.
Although Uber is now facing challenges regarding whether its drivers need to be classified as employees or contractors, the service continues to revolutionize how people drive, connect, and get where they’re going in many metro areas in the United States.
Disclosure: I’m the CEO and Founder of Movers Corp. Moving in the twentieth century was a hassle. People would either bring together all of their friends, and deal with the inefficiency of trying to pack everything and move it themselves, or hire a moving company and hope that everything would arrive unbroken and safe.
Movers Corp brought finding and hiring movers and storage units into the twenty-first century. Instead of calling around, comparing rates, and trying to guess at what the fine print will entail, Movers Corp lets you search for storage units and local movers, compare services, and book, all online. Movers aren’t paid until the job is complete, so you don’t need to worry that someone will take your money and disappear on the day you need them. And unlike some other sites, Movers Corp doesn’t charge a service fee on top of its services, meaning that all you pay for is the movers or the storage space.
Being able to fix your own car has always been an impressive feat. As cars have become more complicated and computerized, the process has become more complex and involved. The Internet, meanwhile, has provided many different ways for amateur mechanics to learn how to complete simple repairs on their cars.
BuyAutoParts.com is a perfect example of what a business can become when it focuses on being a thought leader in its industry. The website does sell some of the best OEM auto parts in the industry, and has some of the most impressive cataloging in the auto industry, but where this website really shakes up the industry is in its clear and concise guides to the various repairs that a person can safely and easily complete on their own.
Along with guides, Buy Auto Parts also offers an active community for their customers, connecting with them via blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. They use social media as a value-add for their customers, offering special deals and discounts that are only available to customers who connect with them on those venues.
Twenty years ago, when you needed a babysitter, you might have asked at a church event, at a local YWCA class, or just talked to neighborhood moms until you found a teenager who would watch your kids for a few bucks an hour. Care.com completely alters how parents find care for their kids. Those who have care services to offer sign up and provide any credentials that they have; parents search for people in their area who can care for their children.
As our communities have become farther flung from each other, Care.com has provided the crucial service of letting customers feel like they know more about the people who are watching their children. Meanwhile, students who are working on early education degrees or kids who’ve completed safety courses, can list their services as available.
Whether parents are looking for a babysitter, a nanny, or a mother’s helper, Care.com helps them connect with the providers they can afford.
How is your company meeting its customers needs?
From thought leadership to exciting new ways of connecting service providers and users, the Internet offers a multitude of new ways for businesses to find new customers and help their customers meet their needs. Let’s take a moment to highlight some of what these exciting companies have in common.
- They offer new ways for customers to request the service they need
- They provide expert information that previously was restricted to a small group of professionals
- They give benefits to customers who connect with them on multiple venues, growing their audience
- They make it simpler for customers to make sure they’re receiving the best services, by offering reviews and certifications that help customers know exactly what they’re offering
- They take a process that was very difficult, and ease a pain point for consumers
When you’re looking at your business and considering how to bring it into the new millennium, drawing benefit from the Internet and social media connectedness, consider these factors, and look for ways to tap into these strategies for your own business. Perhaps your website can focus on content creation. Maybe your Twitter followers deserve a special discount on a given day.
The only limit to the ways that the Internet can bring exciting new opportunities to your business is your imagination.
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