Why the on-demand economy is big business

The on-demand economy is thriving thanks to new technology. Start-ups are finding new ways to connect with their customers and deliver services in the blink of an eye. Federico Ferraro shares useful top tips on how to build a successful business and explains how his business, Quiqup, is leveraging technology to give people whatever they want when they want it.

Quiqup launched in 2014 with the goal of revolutionising the way people shop and companies manage deliveries, particularly from retailers such as grocers, florists and clothes shops as well as restaurants.

Users in central London can make orders via iOS and Android apps as well as through our website. We aim to deliver whatever they need within an hour.

The idea feeds into the growing on-demand economy, which has flourished on the back of smartphone technology and is helping to connect people with goods and services without having to wait for delivery times.

Just a few years ago the concept of a concierge service was reserved for the elite. But new tools have given the mass market an opportunity to access a similar service at a much lower price point.

Taking on the giants of retail convenience

We want to compete with the likes of Amazon and Deliveroo, by providing a tailored, flexible service, which adds a personalised element to the standard delivery model.

Our drivers – we call them Quiqees – are a bit like personal shoppers. While a job is live, they are in contact with the customer and can advise them on their purchases. Our live tracking feature provides real-time information on the Quiqee’s actual location and customers are reassured on the estimated time of arrival. It’s personal – and not just an automated tracking number like your typical delivery from the major delivery firms.

This is obviously a benefit to our customers but it also acts as a recruitment and retention tool. In other delivery services, drivers just go from A to B, but for us the job has many more dimensions.

The work is also flexible and, although mealtimes are busiest, the fact that we deliver more than just food means there is activity throughout the day, not just during lunch and dinner. So they can work longer hours instead of being focused intensively on these short peak periods.

This structure allows for a higher pay for our drivers; some of whom are entrepreneurs themselves, earning money to fund their own business ideas.

Our Quiqees travel to more places and their orders are more diverse. It helps to offer this variety in a market where it’s hard to compete on wages alone.

The data advantage

Technology has obviously played a major part in the development of our business and we use sophisticated analytics to gain insights into our user base and their orders.

Today we are sitting on a goldmine of data. When we started it was quite simple: we looked at what people ordered and we noted the popular venues.

Now it is much more complex and we calculate future trends such as peak times in activity. We can forecast the coming week’s orders and how many drivers we will need at different times.

The team does a lot of number-crunching. It is important because our business is all about shaving minutes off delivery times and creating a win-win situation for retailers and consumers.

Learning from customers to hone the service

The overall vision for the business; to create an awesome company and to disrupt the logistics space, is the only thing that has stayed the same. Everything else has changed as a result of customers’ feedback. As a start-up it is vital to constantly innovate your business model around the changing needs of your customers. Here are some tips to keep in mind when building a start-up:

Listen to your customers: Their input will help you refine your offering and optimise the business in ways you can’t possibly think of on your own. At Quiqup, we make sure we listen to the users and build new features into the app that give them exactly what they need in a way they can access easily. In a very real sense they dictate how we evolve.

Choose the right partners: We are also partnering with more and more businesses to bring them extra customers while simultaneously driving down prices for our users. In the beginning, our drivers would just go into the stores, buy the item and deliver it, but now we have developed relationships so we can improve the offer.

This is the part of the business we want to emphasise in future, by developing a revenue-share model with the business we work with most often. It will help us keep costs down and improve the service from start to finish.

A great product is key: Our business is still a start-up but we have learned plenty in a short space of time. For others starting on this road I would advise creating a great product that people will want to talk about. Word of mouth is a potent marketing channel for new businesses.

And so is a great team: Create a great team that shares your vision and your passion. Recruiting is hard at first because you’re unknown, so you need people who understand the reason you exist and are energised by it.