3 Companies Using Speed as a Competitive Advantage

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As the Internet has seeped into every aspect of our lives as consumers, we’ve essentially become instant gratification junkies. We want everything now. If you ever saw or read Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you probably drew an immediate connection between our society and the character Veruca Salt.

We’re like Veruca, who says over and over, “I want it now!”  Or as she sings to her father Mr. Salt, “I want the works. I want the whole works. Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises of all shapes and sizes. And now. Don’t care how, I want it now.”

Well, the marketplace obliges. In the words of Mr. Salt, “Anything you say.”

The instant-gratification culture

Over time, we’ve been conditioned to crave more instant gratification and look down upon services and processes that take a long time to develop. As a result, businesses are trying to leverage this desire by creating products and services that allow for immediate satisfaction – but not necessarily lasting.

Related: When in Startup Mode, Embrace Speed! Speed! Speed!

“The need for instant gratification is not new, but our expectation of ‘instant’ has become faster, and as a result, our patience is thinner,” Narayan Janakiraman, a professor of marketing at the University of Texas, Arlington, told The Boston Globe. 

When the majority of the population has a desire or inclination, the marketplace naturally responds. Entrepreneurs have begun building their businesses around this desire for instant gratification, and as a result, consumers have become even more conditioned to expect real-time services that further feed this perceived need.

Speed as a competitive advantage

Businesses across varying industries have quickly realized that speed can be used to develop a competitive advantage. Speed can be categorized under a number of different labels -- including speed to market, speedy delivery and speedy service -- but the root word stays the same. Any time a business can do something faster than the competition, they’re going to experience some level of success.

In industries that are particularly price competitive, speed can be the distinguishing competitive advantage.

While, the idea of leveraging speed to satisfy a consumer desire for instant gratification isn’t necessarily new, what is new is the number of companies and industries that are now focusing on speed as a means of developing a competitive advantage.

Here are three in particular:

1. Amazon Prime

No company has mastered order fulfillment and shipping quite like Amazon. Not only are they extremely efficient and accurate but speed is a major priority. Through Amazon Prime, the company’s flagship paid membership service, customers can get guaranteed two-day shipping on all products that are Prime eligible. Offering this two-day service is a smart move for Amazon for two distinct reasons:

  • Conditions customers: Even if a customer only tries two-day shipping once, they find it hard to go back to the standard three to seven days. As a result, they’re apt to continue paying for a Prime membership.
  • Encourages more purchases: The biggest disadvantage ecommerce has compare to brick-and-mortar retail is that consumers have to wait for products to arrive after purchasing them. By focusing on speedy delivery, Amazon has been able to mitigate this disadvantage.

Related: How This Speed-Focused Delivery Service Is Quickly Making a Name for Itself

Believe it or not, Amazon is even offering same-day delivery on certain products in 16 different metro areas around the country. If you thought shipping couldn’t get any faster, think again.

2. UberEATS

While individual restaurants have long had their own food delivery services, UberEATS is changing the game for both businesses and consumers. Using the associated app, users simply select one of the daily meals from selected restaurants in their area and place an order. An Uber driver then delivers food in 10 minutes or less. All payment takes place through the app, meaning there’s no need to scrounge up cash for a driver tip.

With meals typically ranging between $8 and $12, and a flat fee charge for each request (not the number of meals), it’s cheap, simple and extremely easy.

3. Jimmy John's

When you think fast delivery, Jimmy John’s instantly comes to mind. Until lawsuits derailed some of their aggressiveness, the company’s marketing messages were filled with slogans revolving around “Freaky Fast.” However, despite the fact that the company has come under attack for being too fast -- in terms of traffic safety -- Jimmy John’s is still known for its fast delivery that arrives in 15 minutes or less.

In cities where it can take an hour just to leave the office and grab something to go, this quick delivery has allowed the company to set itself apart from the pack.

Need for speed

“From a business perspective, there’s nothing wrong with companies selling more and faster,” entrepreneur Phil Fremont-Smith told the Boston Globe. “People have always been impatient, and sometimes that impatience helps move things faster.” Amazon Prime, Uber Eats, and Jimmy Johns are three examples of how attending to the market desire of instant gratification offers an effective means of gaining a competitive advantage.

As an entrepreneur, business owner or CEO, it’s imperative that you think about speed. How you utilize speed may be different than the next company, but it’s critical that you spend some time and energy thinking about it. As more and more companies focus on swiftness, the market will only further be conditioned to expect things right away.

Like it or not, today’s consumer is a modern day Veruca Salt. Veruca wants it now. 

Related: Deliver on Price, Quality and Speed