Most Canadians may be unfamiliar with the term “on-demand app” but the fact is that these digital platforms are being widely adopted across the country and billions of dollars worth of transactions are occurring every year.[i]
So, what is an on-demand app? The simplest way to explain it is to give examples of two of the biggest and most successful on-demand apps out there – Uber and Airbnb. Put simply, an on-demand app is a platform for your smart phone which can be used to create an online marketplace – usually for services.
How On-Demand Apps Work
Like the name suggests, services offered through these apps are “on-demand” – you will receive them same day or maybe even within the hour depending on the app and the type of service. Buyers like these kinds of apps because the services are convenient and often less expensive than purchasing from traditional brick and mortar businesses. Sellers like these apps because it gives them a platform to offer their services without having to invest in a lot of overhead. The owners of the platform make money by taking a small percentage of each transaction.
Building an online marketplace for such an app often takes a good deal of time, financial investment and sweat equity, but once that marketplace reaches a critical mass, the ROI can quite significant.
Canada’s On-Demand Economy
Given the number of Canadians that own smartphones, it seems likely that on-demand apps are going to continue to spike in popularity for some time to come. In 2016, it was estimated that 76% of Canadians owned smart phones and if you accounted for only those Canadians aged 15-34, that number went up to 94%[ii]. With the touch of a screen, we can get the services we want when we want them, and if we are so inclined, we offer services and earn an income as well.
With job security no longer a given, more and more Canadians are starting their own side hustles. The number of Canadians who are moonlighting to make extra cash is more than double what it was 40 years ago.[iii] And with so many things being digitized, having a side hustle is easier than ever. Most moonlighters may not be building the next Uber, but they certainly might consider becoming an Uber driver. And they are putting other skills to use too. Hair stylists, dog walkers, personal trainers and a plethora of other workers are moonlighting and finding new clients through mobile on-demand apps. And for those entrepreneurs bold enough to start their own on-demand apps, the potential for profit is great.
Of course, the giants like Uber and Airbnb still account for the largest percentage of transactions through on-demand apps but new marketplaces are being created every day. Whether you’re looking for someone to deliver restaurant take-out, shovel your driveway, help you build your Ikea furniture or give you a relaxing massage, chances are you can find an on-demand app to make that happen.
And if you can’t find an on-demand app for the service that you want? Well – you might just have the perfect idea for Canada’s next business in the sharing economy.