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The convenience economy

Over the last six weeks, I have taken Uber or Ola over fifty times. And I'm convinced I will never own a car for utility's sake. I have very rarely had to wait long or pay a surge price on any of these fifty plus rides. It is extremely convenient to hail a cab using an app than to drive myself.

I was not much of an online shopper until a few months ago, and had always preferred to go to the store to pick up my stuff. But now, I order all my books on Flipkart and all my clothes on Myntra. Somewhere along the line, the variety on offer on e-commerce sites is now far more than what's on offer in the stores. And it is far more convenient to find something you might like online than at the store today. Perhaps I will do the same for electronics (I already do it for smartphones).

But, I have still never ordered food from any of the food delivery startups, nor have I ordered groceries. Despite them offering a similar level of convenience as compared to an Uber or Flipkart or Myntra.

So, I have transitioned from preferring to drive myself and buy books and clothes only in the stores to hailing cabs from an app and buying books and clothes online. But these apps were all available both before and after my transition.

I have actively chosen to not get things delivered before and would have continued to do so today if the same level of variety (and quality?) continued to be available at the stores. But they aren't.

This makes me think that providing convenience is like having a very good user interface. It is never the reason I use a product, but it is what keeps me from cribbing about the product (and maybe tolerating the absence of some fringe features that I occasionally need).

While building a product or a feature, the user experience comes in only after the value proposition is clear. A product never gets built because it can be built with a good user experience, but because it adds value to the user.

The convenience economy then, is not just about the convenience. In fact, convenience is just a new design paradigm (like material design in Android). It is something you are expected to have, but not what will bring users back to you. It is about the value that you add.

The convenience economy is not really the convenience economy. It is still the value economy. 

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