If you think your company doesn't play in the on-demand economy, you should reconsiderf you think your company doesn’t play in the on-demand economy, you may want to reconsider. The powerful combination of urbanization and technology are influencing your business, and it’s time to take action.    

Over $9.4 billion has been invested in the on-demand economy since 2010, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.  If waiting was the hardest part, as Tom Petty once testified to, technology has virtually eliminated it with a push of a button. Today, we’re hailing cabs, streaming movies and television shows, and ordering take-out with smartphone — no matter when or where we are. 

E-commerce companies have introduced same-day delivery in urban markets, and 2 percent of shoppers have used those services. Over $4 billion in merchandise will be delivered through same-day shipments by 2018.

But these online retailers are being tasked with hitting their target not only quickly but also while it’s moving. Customers are more mobile than ever and expect companies to meet them wherever they are — whether that is at home, at work, or while they are on vacation in St. Martin sipping a margarita Oceanside. 

Keeping up with these expectations is stressing resources across the board, especially in our cities. Shipping costs continue to rise and warehouse space is at a premium due to resource scarcity in densely populated urban areas. While emerging markets such as China and India have some of the biggest growth opportunities, these countries already have too many vehicles on the road and too few warehouses. These are the problems of urbanization that businesses face today.   

Why On-Demand Matters

Overcoming these urbanization challenges requires businesses to understand the complexities of their supply chain and optimize each step from when the customer places their order to the moment it arrives at their door. We need to leverage our limited resources better and to more efficiently service our customers. We must rethink our business operations and models as on-demand systems, using what we need when we need in the most efficient way possible.   

When I visited India earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak with some of our customers. E-commerce is growing faster in India than other countries and is expected to become a $120 billion industry by 2020. Bubble Wrap® could allow an entire generation of entrepreneurs in India’s cities to safely ship goods to customers across the country, continent, and beyond; it will be a real game changer for their economy. 

Last year, we re-imagined how we deliver our product to our customers with Bubble Wrap® IB. With this system, our e-commerce customers can inflate Bubble Wrap on demand within their warehouses. With this innovation, we can now reach our customers in India’s e-commerce industry, and, in turn, help them reach their customers around the world. 

Updating products to adapt to the on-demand economy is easier than you think

In the United States, it is helping businesses manage their warehouse resources and protect their products better. One pallet of Bubble Wrap IB equates to about 90 bundles large bundles of standard Bubble Wrap, meaning there’s less to ship and less to store. At the same time, it is reducing damage rates tenfold for some companies, allowing them to satisfy more their customers more often. 

Updating our products and consumers’ operations to become on-demand could not have happened without an investment in technology. It has the power to monitor resource usage, which, in turn, will allow us to optimize our supply chains and operations. 

The data we see tells us that labor remains the biggest resource challenge for many industries. Ultimately, we need a more agile workforce. It’s not about hiring more people but using the employees that we already have more efficiently. We must begin applying the fundamental concepts that have made Uber successful to our workforces, assigning tasks to the most qualified and available people in our talent pools to provide a better customer experience. 

Ready or not, your customers are expecting your products and services to come to them quicker than ever before. If you’re not preparing to service your customers with an on-demand mentality, they may not be there for you in the future.

To learn more about how your business can leverage an on-demand mentality and improve its resource efficiency, read “Glassware Distributor Reduces Waste 10X, Increases Efficiency with On-Demand Protection Solution.”