For the fortunate among us that have a personal assistant, nothing new is being presented in this post. However, for those that still make their own breakfast and need to think about bringing food to the park themselves, reading this might open a few doors.
Nowadays, almost everything is available online. From ordering groceries and complete meals to outsourcing more personal matters as holiday booking and creating photo books. Still, for each of these things you still need to go to different websites, fill out different registration forms, and every time ‘explain’ who you are as a customer and what it is that you need. But some clever entrepreneurs have recognized this problem and started companies offering ‘all’. The best known companies are the American Magic, the German GoButler and also quite recently the Dutch uButler.
Whenever you need something you send an SMS to the company with your request. You then get a price and time indication for the request. If you accept this, you pay through a link and you wait for your service to be delivered.
A nice video on how the service works is the video on an experiment run by Wired. A journalist of the magazine ordered a sandwich, asked for someone to go try out a hoodie in a specific store and even got some (legal) joints delivered.
All platforms are known for their low response time and customer friendly approach. Magic request cost you a fee, while GoButler and uButler are offering free services where you only pay as you accept the offer they make you. uButler also adds to their international competitors by showing short news features and weather conditions. Their revenue models build on the future prospect that customers search through the platforms for whatever product or service they require. That these companies are interesting to many also appears from the funding they get. In a little over four months GoButler has raised 14M dollars of Series A funding. It took Magic less than a month to get 12M dollars of series A funding.
What is interesting to these types of platforms is that they can get to know you and your preferences. No longer do you have to order in specifics but you can order your ‘favorite type of something’ and the platform will know what it is. This benefit is mutual as the customer convenience is increased while the company benefits from the individual ties to the organization. This is confirmed by the co-founder of GoButler Navid Hadzaad. He says they experience strong lock-in effects by the building of customer relationships.
For now, the platform is not only practical but mostly fun. Customers seem to use the service on a trial base and for sending out unusual requests, rather than actually relying on the service. This is quite convenient in the initial phase of the startup as problems with the service are related to the capacity of the system. Magic and also uButler, experienced severe downtime upon the launch due to the extreme popularity. Also, some complaints from the market are that requests involving large amount of money have priority over the smaller requests. Privacy is another issue. Customers share personal information such as their address and phone number, which are needed for communication and delivery. However, as the companies are outsourcing the delivery to others, these sensitive details are also shared with many.
Despite the issues related to the businesses, the potential of these firms is great. And when the early adopters have approved the concept, it is time for the rest of us to follow. Ordering everything you want, where you want it. Anything else?