In everything we do, it seems like we want to be able to get it right then in that moment, without waiting a second. As consumer minds are scattered between a litany of things that need to be done and time is quickly becoming one of our most valuable assets, immediate gratification is a necessity. Between running the kids here and there, to balancing job responsibilities, it seems the list of things that need to be done never ends. In between that massive to-do list is our desire to escape the madness and consume entertainment. We’re too busy to be expected to be in front of the TV at the exact moment a TV show is playing. Instead we look for our favorite programs when we want them, on our schedule.
It’s not surprising that Netflix has experienced tremendous success with their Netflix only series’ released all at once. They clearly analyzed our binge TV watching habits and saw that we will sit and watch an entire series over a week or two. But our entertainment habits beg to question, are we moving into an OnDemand economy? Or are we already knee-deep in the throes of OnDemand and possibly still in denial? And how is this going to impact business, both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B)? If you are a B2B company and think that consumer behavior doesn’t impact you, it’s time to think again, but I’ll leave that to another post.
Smartphones Could Be the Driving Force Behind the OnDemand Economy
The amount of smartphone users in the US is staggering. Adoption has grown from 10% of American in 2009 to 53% of Americans in 2013. That’s an estimated 139 million Americans walking around with a smartphone. (Source: Edison Research) If you look at the 18-34 year old demographic the number jumps to 75%. The ability for consumers to access OnDemand information has never been higher. And they are doing it, the same Edison study revealed that 83% of smartphone users are accessing the internet with their device.
Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. We are using our phones to access the internet. One could question, “why are we accessing the internet?” I would argue that smartphones are becoming the interceptor to OnDemand content to make buying decisions. If you think about how you buy today versus how you bought 10 years ago, I think we can all agree that our behaviors have drastically changed. When we go to the store to shop for something, especially a large purchase, what do we do? We compare prices online. When we drive in the car with our significant other and talk about going away on vacation, what do we do? We start researching a potential destination and costs on our phone. The scenarios for when we might use a device for decision-making research are endless.
Personally, I have used my smart phone to help make all types of decisions. I’m planning a major move for my family in 2019 that has been solely researched on my smart phone with the Realtor.com app. I’m looking for a new car and have looked at too many makes and models to count. I make a ridiculous amount of purchases on my mobile phone for everything from a new Bento box for my daughter’s school lunches to major electronics like TV’s and even laptops for our company. I also do a lot of business research including looking at new tools in the space, booking business travel, looking at conferences, listening to business podcasts while traveling, and reading business blogs.
If your company doesn’t have a mobile strategy, it’s time to get started.
Is Your Company Ready for an OnDemand Economy?
If we stopped to think about all of the different types of OnDemand consumption we do as consumers and as business leaders, it’s clear that OnDemand information, OnDemand entertainment and OnDemand purchasing are critical components of the future. And this is only the beginning. Our children might just be called the OnDemand Generation, as Tracey Parsons, one of our strategists, and I discussed at length over a few drinks. She came up with that name because she’s way smarter than me. It’s time to start thinking about what an OnDemand buyer could mean for your business, whether you are B2B or B2C. It brings up some really interesting questions for businesses.
Here are some questions for B2B Companies
- Is our sales process optimized for an OnDemand, multi-device environment?
- Does our audience need to be able to get in-depth product information OnDemand?
- Does our audience need to be able to get product demonstrations OnDemand? What’s the best user experience for this? Bite-sized chunks with specific feature demonstrations? Or lengthy in-depth demonstrations? Both?
- Does our audience need to be able to get pricing information OnDemand?
- Does our audience need to be able to purchase OnDemand?
- Does our audience need to be able to get in touch with a sales person OnDemand, outside of normal business hours, immediately?
- Does our audience need to be able to get customer service OnDemand, outside of normal business hours, with live people?
- Does our audience need to be able to sign contracts OnDemand? Submit invoices OnDemand? Get bills OnDemand? Make payments OnDemand?
- Does our audience need to be able to give us product/service feedback OnDemand? Should they get an immediate response if help is needed?
- What other things might our audience want to do OnDemand? Prospects? Customers? Employees?
- And finally: Are all of our website processes optimized for mobile devices? Hint: This doesn’t mean a mobile site that gives me 3 options. I’m talking about a truly optimized experience.
Let me give you some insight on a few of these related to pricing and sales personnel contact. When it comes to pricing, B2C companies have already figured this out and they display prices. If you are B2B company the answer to whether or not to display pricing is absolutely YES! Recently, I went to research a major enterprise software tool to find 2 paragraphs of information about their software and no pricing information. I couldn’t tell what their software “really” did or any idea on costs. This is way too common! You don’t have to give me dead-set pricing, but you could at least give me a starting point, an average, or a range so I can get an idea of whether or not it’s worth scheduling a meeting. But this “Ask for Quote” stuff I see all the time makes me want to throw my device out the window. Luckily, I love my phone more than I’m frustrated by your user experience, so I’ll keep my phone and I’ll move on to one of your competitors pretty quickly. In terms of OnDemand access to sales, I also say YES! Eventually, I left a message for a sales person. I received a call back from a government rep (I’m close to Washington, DC) who told me he would have someone else call back. I never received another call. That’s not an experience that is optimized for the OnDemand economy. When I’m actively trying to research your company, why would you make it difficult for me to get access to someone who can answer my questions? Let me do it right now! Give me a phone number and send me to a sales person immediately. If not, you’re leaving business on the table for your competitors to scoop up.
Here are some questions for B2C companies
- Can customers order from you OnDemand? Yes this likely means online, but it could also mean setting up scheduled deliveries to my house. If I drink a lot of Poland Springs Water, Pepsi or Coke, there are people like me who would love to have cases shipped right to their house on a set schedule, and NO I probably don’t want to talk to a sales person or anyone else about it. Especially, if I’m setting up soda deliveries. Heh. (That ‘heh’ was for you, Jason Falls). Think about the future of how your audience wants to buy and ask whether or not you are ready for it.
- Can your customers give you product feedback OnDemand? Making me search for a feedback form on a website doesn’t count either. As an idea, how about giving people an email address and QR code right on the product?
- Can customers really get product information OnDemand? I’ve mentioned this before, but I love to order shoes online. The one question I can’t find an answer to: Are these conference material shoes? How long can I really wear these shoes before my feet want to revolt? And when I call service they always lie and say they would totally work at a conference.
- Is your purchase process quick enough for the OnDemand consumer? Remember, we are easily distracted. Your process needs to be done before I venture to something else. Amazon does an amazing job at this. I ordered that Bento box mentioned above in 45 seconds from research to check out and I never had to pull out my wallet.
Clearly there are a lot of questions companies can start asking and answering now so they are prepared. My guess is the companies who start to prepare and build a truly OnDemand experience now will be the leaders in their industry before the OnDemand generation is even old enough to have a credit or debit card without parental intervention.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe we are entering an OnDemand economy? Do you think we are already there? What things should B2C and B2B companies consider for the OnDemand customer? Leave a comment and join the discussion.