One of the ongoing effects of the pandemic, to me, is a desire for convenience. The curbside pickup of groceries reflects this trend. However, on Thanksgiving morning, I found myself shopping in two major grocery stores to pick up the essential heavy whipping cream for the pie. I was struck by the amount of ‘’convenience” offerings in a large “grab-and-go” portion of both stores that were strategically located close to the cash registers and exits.
There were options as to the level of “convenience” I could select. There were warm ready-to-eat meals, ready-to-cook meals, and prepared vegetables and fruits. In the warming section, there were mashed potatoes and gravy in a cup in addition to the rotisserie roast chicken. Other examples of convenience have been with us for a while, such as drive-thru coffee, banking, and dispensaries.
The point I am trying to make is THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Not only did my cheese get moved, but it disappeared. My change of residence to an urban setting has trigged many changes, but perhaps, the largest is convenience. The density of urban living makes things more convenient.
All of this started me wondering what convenience is, and why do we seek it? To me, convenience is about time and money. When I purchase the prepared meals, I am buying back the time it would take me to shop for the food and prepare it. The price I pay reflects a higher cost part of which goes to pay someone to prepare the food for me. So, I am trading money for time.
Following the stay-at-home orders during lockdown rekindled my interest in cooking. However, now the time is spent commuting rather than cooking, and thus, the “grab-and-go” appeals to me. The opposite of convenience has been my experience in the fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru lanes. The labor shortages have caused closures, reduced hours, and, in some cases, limited them to drive-thru only. Will a Big Mac and fries taste the same coming from a vending machine? Judging by the number of fast-food closures or drive-thru only signs, automation may become the answer, much as it is doing in manufacturing.
Lastly, I ask myself, how convenient is myproduct or service? What could I do to make it more convenient? How easy is it to do business with me? Something for me to ponder…