When On-Demand Is And Isn't Appropriate

PrivInstagramInstagram user @Bawish got a haircut in his kitchen using the app Priv.

Anyone covering the tech and startup space can attest to the endless amount of pitches for different on-demand services.

After receiving these emails on a daily basis, I figured it was worth giving some of the apps and services a try. I wanted to experience them first-hand to see what all the craze was about.

I started small with Uber and Lyft. That was pretty basic. It was like a cab, but I could order it on-demand to wherever I was, at anytime. Oh, and it cost less than your average cab. Great.

But then I moved on to some other, less mainstream on-demand services, and the experiences became a bit more complex.

I decided to give WunWun a shot. Their deal is that they will deliver anything to you for free. They’re a Postmates competitor servicing all those places that aren’t on Seamless so that you never have to leave your apartment again.

Not sure what the app would be like, I decided to simply order a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. Three hours later, after dozens of texts back and forth with my WunWun deliveryman, I got that coveted bag of chips.

To be fair, they were offering a promotion the same day, so they were probably especially busy. And they’re also still a fairly new startup, just figuring out the Manhattan scene. My deliveryman had to come all the way from lower Manhattan to the Upper West Side to bring me my bag of chips.

Was it really worth it? I probably could have mustered up the strength to walk the two minutes to the nearby Associated supermarket.

WunWunWunWunA WunWun deliveryman on the move.

My coworker Caroline Moss had a similarly frustrating situation with an on-demand delivery service.

She decided to order some groceries — including frozen food — from Trader Joe’s using Postmates.

It happened to be a very hot day, and Moss’s deliveryman just happened to get in a car accident on the way. The deliveryman was fine. The frozen food was not.

Lesson learned. On-demand delivery is not for anything that will melt.

But the on-demand craze goes far beyond getting a car or some food. Some startups will send over salon specialists to your apartment or office for a pedicure, manicure, or even a haircut.

That same coworker of mine, Caroline Moss, is a staunch supporter of GlamSquad, an app that lets you order a salon specialist to come do your hair and/or makeup. She uses it all the time.

I decided to give it a shot with a similar app called Priv, which goes beyond hair and makeup to offer actual haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and massages.

Not quite yet ready to try anything more daring, I started with a pedicure. A very nice woman came to my apartment, with all of her pedicure tools in hand.

Sitting down at my dining room table, I got a 30 minute pedicure with a 10 minute foot massage.

The massage was incredible, and the polish was great. It was also super convenient that I didn’t have to leave my apartment, nor did I have to check to see which salons nearby were open.

But there were definitely some tradeoffs. For one, the very nice pedicurist did not come with a massage chair or a tub of water filled with pretty rocks. And there was no relaxing salon music (though I guess I could have supplied that myself).

GLAMSQUAD NYCFacebook/glamsquadNYCA GlamSquad specialist at work.

Nonetheless, I decided to take things to the next level, and made another appointment with Priv. This time for a haircut.

My hair specialist was friendly and nice, and even taught me the “proper way” to shampoo my hair. He gave me a great haircut (at least that’s what my mum told me), and best thing of all, I was able to schedule it after work, despite most hair salons already being closed.

It was incredibly convenient for a working woman.

But again, there were some tradeoffs. The main one being that I had to clean up my hair myself. I had sort of assumed that the hair specialist would have taken care of that, but I wound up sweeping up the floor myself.

It was also a little more difficult sitting for a long time in my less-than-comfortable dining room chair.

I can definitely understand the appeal of having someone come to your apartment to do your hair and makeup before a wedding, but I’m not so sure how frequently I’d want to order some of the other salon services.

That said, I’m still very much an entry-level on-demander, but I think I’ve learned that there is a time and place for on-demand. Despite the fact that VCs may be eating up every new on-demand pitch, maybe not everything needs to delivered immediately and to any location. Maybe sometimes it just makes more sense to get off your couch and buy a bag of chips.

Not going to lie, though, I’m pretty excited for Washio to come to New York so I can avoid the basement laundry room…

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