It’s late, you’ve returned to your car after an evening ballgame to find the tire is flat. What do you do? With parking place reservation app ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based iOS and Android developer, the answer is now embedded in the same app you used to find and book the parking spot. The company has partnered with Urgent.ly, which provides roadside assistance to drivers, to offer Urgent.ly services in its app, at the touch of a button. ParkWhiz app users get immediate help and the company shares part of the revenue generated by Urgent.ly for the referral.
Blending on-demand services to provide increasingly complete solutions to daily consumer challenges is key to on-demand longevity. In the app economy, the proliferation of icons on a mobile phone has signaled how deeply customers want to customize their experience, but the number and combination of apps necessary to address even a small swathe of daily life are a barrier to customer satisfaction. By developing APIs (application programming interfaces) and HTML 5.0 objects that can be embedded in another application, Urgent.ly aims to develop its presence in many apps, not just its own.
“This is the first-ever tie-up [like this] with a parking app,” Rick Robinson, Cofounder and SVP of Product at Urgent.ly said. It is one of many such firsts, all sounding relatively mundane to the marketer’s ear, but which are essential to knitting together complex solutions to the needs of customers. In this emerging environment, we anticipate fewer but more richly customized apps will take top positions on mobile home screens, because they are associated not with a single service.
but a rich catalog of services that can be combined to solve many more daily problems. These apps will be portals to services, storing extensive personal information that the customer shared with the developer to access services with appropriate context. For example, if the app already knows you will be proximate to your car when using it, it can surface more car-related services, driving demand that can be fulfilled on the fly by a local provider.
The company launched its API and HTML 5.0 embeddable tools this Spring and has been responding to partner opportunities since then. “There have been lots of requests from a variety of app developers and businesses,” Robinson said. “It’s also notable that a lot of the requests came from overseas, where we don’t currently operate.”
Robinson said the company will continue to grow its partnerships through automated connections, but will limit its commitments to carefully vetted partners. “[Developers need to talk to us before we give them the keys,” he said, adding that Urgent.ly will also need to ramp up its own organization to support a broader array of related services.
BIA/Kelsey Quick Take: On-demand service providers can increase customer engagement by integrating related services directly into their app interface. They can also piggy-back on other successful related services to gain access to demand, as Urgent.ly has chosen to do with ParkWhiz. These integrations must be tuned to the needs of customers or companies risk alienating users with crowded and confusing user interface experiences. Many more integrations like this will come to market over the next six months as complementary customer segments are knitted together in a quest to win greater share of customer spending. We expect that some future on-demand startups may launch without an app, relying on solid integrations with partners who already have access to the target market instead of building their own application.