Help at the push of a button


Between his full time job and working on his startup, Jayson Elliot doesn't have much free time. When he realized he wasn't ready for an upcoming morning meeting, he tapped out a text for help. 

"I didn't have a good shirt for a meeting that was at 8am," Jayson said. "So, at like 9 o'clock at night they managed to get me a good button down shirt."

Jayson didn't reach out to a friend or personal assistant, but to Magic. It's one of several, new on demand delivery services accessible from your smartphone. One of Jayson's favorite parts? Being able to send a quick text request. 

"It's being able to call someone up and almost have them act as your concierge or personal assistant and go run an errand or do something for you," Jayson told us.

Services that let users send a text or make a request through an app are growing in popularity and number, according to Magic CEO, Mike Chen.  He credits the growth to our connection to technology.

"What's been happening with mobile over the last few years has really been making people more and more used to the idea that you can just click a button and get something," Chen explained. "So I think that desire is what's driving this industry."

Pricing for services like Wunwun, Postmates, Instacart or Magic varies depending on factors that can include delivery distance, the overall cost of the goods requested, and even how busy the service is at the time of your request. Sara-Ann Kasner, founder & CEO of the National Concierge Association says getting extra help with everyday tasks allows consumers to save in other ways and she expects the digital options to grow even more.

"The most precious commodity we have today is our time. Everybody is just starved for time. When I look at an app, I'm looking at it for instant gratification and that's really at the heart of what the concierge service is all about," Kasner said.

Kasner sees similarities between new on demand services and using a personal concierge.  But, she says one element distinguishes an app or text services from a true concierge.

"The personal touch is very important in the concierge service," Kasner said.

One challenge for digital services, according to Chen?

"You really have to make sure that you do get things to people quickly and immediately without hassle," Chen said.

Jayson says in some cases when he's texted for help, he's opted to skip the service rather than pay an upcharge. But it has come through for him in a pinch.

"I'll consider whether it's worth, you know, paying a little bit of a premium to get the convenience and the speed," Jayson admitted. 

People we spoke to say they've used these on demand services for help with everything from getting groceries or food delivery from restaurants that don't deliver, to pickups from the tailor, to even having lip balm, toilet paper or soda delivered!