Strategic Partners

The rise of the ‘order’ economy

Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer – Middle East, South Asia and China, VFS Global on how the hyper-focus on doorstep services is disrupting the service industry

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Technology has transformed our world forever – every little advancement, every little update, designed to make our lives easier. Thanks to social media, we are now able to choose who we want to communicate with. We used to have to hail a taxi or call and book one, now we drop a pin and a cab will be there in three minutes, or e-commerce websites can deliver everything we need right to our doorstep. The list goes on.

With many affluent customers, deep internet penetration and advanced networks for logistics, the Middle East’s e-commerce sector is growing faster than anywhere else in the world. Online sales are expected to double to $48.8 billion (AED179.3bn) by 2021, according to a report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research. The UAE will be one of the leading players, with e-commerce spending in the country increasing 170% to $27.1bn in 2022.

This expenditure offers new opportunities for expansion and personalization, as consumers’ demand for convenience prompts the growth of a multitude of services in the new ‘order economy’ – where you are able to order anything and receive services wherever you are.

The easiest way to understand the appeal of the order economy is that people like how it is non-intrusive and non-interruptive. It allows them to get on with their lives, and easily blend in the more tedious aspects of their daily lives without hassle.

This new and exciting advancement has led service providers to offer solutions that can be tailored to meet specific needs in order to provide the best customer experience. Customisation used to be a bonus, now it is the norm. Consumers are seeking even faster and more convenient solutions that also address their unique requirements.

To cater to this changing baseline, service providers are struggling to deliver—literally and figuratively. Businesses who only look at convenience as making things ‘slightly easier’ are missing opportunities. Many online and offline businesses are sprinting for the last mile in retail transactions, but we should be looking at how the trend creates potential.

With busier schedules and more familiarity with e-commerce, consumers are increasingly choosing services that provide convenience in the way they like – not the other way around. Consumers want ease in many areas – not just the main transaction, but throughout the customer experience journey.

Rising popularity of Visa At Your Doorstep service

In fact, creating new ways of interacting with customers has been a gamechanger. VFS Global understands the power that personalisation plays in consumer’s lives. The idea behind providing 360-degree visa processing services at an applicant’s location of choice is based on the fact that convenience online only translates to more loyalty if the experience delivered in real life exceeds expectations, too.

One such highly customer-centric and technology-enabled service is Visa at Your Doorstep, which enables collection of biometric data and visa applications from the applicant’s location of their choice. The service eliminates requirement to travel to the Visa Application Centre, saving travel time and travel costs – instead, a team of trained staff visit individual or group applicants with all the equipment required for the process.

The fact that this doorstep visa service grew at 122% globally in 2018, over the previous year, points to its immense popularity and a sign of the times that flexibility and convenience is more highly valued today than ever before. The service is most often used by large groups of travellers/families, corporates, celebrities, film crews, high net-worth individuals, and student groups.

We are now in the thick of the order economy and we have not even scratched the surface –there are so many possibilities out there and it is always going to evolve. Any brand leader will need to have one eye on the current technology and the other on the horizon, watching what is coming up. This is a massive opportunity for service providers to tap into the growing demand for service, innovation, quality, and value, when and how customers want it.

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