On-demand services let us get practically whatever we want whenever we want it. The prevailing idea is that these services make our lives easier and better, but is that really the case? Yes, on-demand services like grocery delivery, movie and television streaming services, and meal kit subscriptions are convenient. However, these conveniences come with a price. Are all of these on-demand services helping us or hurting us, and are they worth it?
The Benefits of On-demand Services
There are hundreds of companies with on-demand services, and more are popping up to meet the high demand for these types of services every year. On-demand services like Amazon Prime, Blue Apron, Netflix, Hulu, Instacart, Airbnb, Doordash, Lyft, and many others have made our lives incredibly easy. These services are popular because they are simple to use, convenient, and super fast.
Maybe the biggest benefit of on-demand services is easy access to things when you need them. Have groceries delivered right to your door. Forgot that you need a few ingredients to make dinner tonight? Order it and it will be at your door before it is time to make dinner. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? Get any fast food or take out delivered with the push of a few buttons. Even when we cannot access something immediately, we can get practically anything we want within a day or two. Order practically anything through Amazon Prime and it will be at your doorstep in two days or less.
Then there are all the on-demand services that let us stream just about any movie or television show in the history of the world. Itching to watch The Office for the millionth time? Cue it up on Netflix. Want to play the newest PlayStation game? Download it right now. There is no need to physically go to the store to buy a DVD or video game. The other benefit of this situation is that we do not have to have 100 DVDs lying around, making it much easier to live an uncluttered life.
In a culture where people are now more likely to value experiences over things, on-demand services make living that more uncluttered life easier than ever. There are more and more on-demand services that allow you to rent things. Want to watch a movie that is not on a streaming service right now? You can likely rent it on Amazon or Redbox for a few dollars. Why spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy dress for a wedding when you will only wear it once? Now you can just rent that dress for a few days and ship it back.
We can also use on-demand services to book a vacation rental from the living room couch and be there the next day or request a ride and have it show up at our door within minutes. There are even on-demand housing options. Rent a fully-furnished apartment for a week, a month, or even longer with websites like 2nd Address. Again, these services are simple to use and so convenient.
There is Always a Catch…
On-demand services are convenient, but at what cost? These on-demand services are creating an on-demand culture. We expect things – food, television, rides, clothes, video games, pasta makers, you name it – to appear when we want them. We can easily learn to take these kinds of things for granted. We may also be teaching our kids to take things for granted without realizing it. Growing up in a world where everything is immediate lessens the appreciation of what it takes to get those things.
On-demand services make it easy to be wasteful. If you are not careful, subscription services can make it easy to waste money on things that you do not fully use. For example, meal kit subscriptions sound great and can make grocery shopping and meal prep simpler, but if you are not using the food you receive and it gets tossed in the trash, that money just gets wasted. We tend to take advantage of things that claim to make our lives easier but are not so quick to modify or cancel subscriptions we do not end up using.
To be fair, on-demand services do not always make it easy to cancel or unsubscribe. Honestly, they are likely hoping we will be the lazy people we are known to be and not take the time to unsubscribe and just keep giving them our money. Then when subscription services auto-renew, it becomes easy to keep subscribing and spending money on something you do not particularly want or use. It is a trap we have all fallen into and always have (you remember those Columbia House CD subscriptions that we kept paying for forever because it was easier than figuring out how to cancel it).
The other pitfall to on-demand services is that they are turning us into impatient people. On-demand services have made us come to expect things right now. We can order groceries and have them delivered on the same day. We can order almost anything and have it arrive within a day or two with next-day and two-day shipping. How many times have you put something in your online shopping cart to see that that it will not arrive for three to five days instead of two and thought to yourself, “What?! Five days! This is ridiculous!” You are not alone. Google searches for “same day shipping” have grown 120 percent since 2015.
Even when these on-demand services charge for the convenience of immediate shipping, consumers show over and over that we are willing to shell out whatever fee we need to in order to get that those new socks or that pasta maker within two days. No one flinches at the monthly fee for Amazon Prime. Convenience, we tell ourselves, is worth the price.
Pretty soon we will be able to satisfy pretty much every need with on-demand services no matter where we are with the tap of our phone screen. As long as we take advantage of the convenience of these services without being inadvertently wasteful, on-demand services really can make our lives easier and freer of things we do not need. We just have to remind ourselves that just because we can have something in a matter of hours or a day, does not mean we need it.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on the Top 5 Best Groocery Delivery Services.
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