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From the Editor
From all indications, we are becoming an increasingly impatient, on-demand society, seeking instant gratification especially when it comes to expectations of service. Who among us has not come unglued when trying to access the Internet only to be met by the maddening spinning ball, or cursed a trusted next-day delivery service when that package did not arrive on time? It was a little more than 25 years ago that the Internet as we know it was born and a mere decade since same-day shipping/next-day delivery became available. In the intervening years, the library as a resource for information has been largely abandoned for Google search, the handwritten letter or a phone call to communicate with family or business associates has been replaced by email and texts, and the 5-day parcel post has been jettisoned in favor of next-day or same-day delivery. We have been transformed into a society that demands almost instantaneous results, even if it costs extra to obtain that service.
The pressure to shorten the delivery cycle is revolutionizing and disrupting normal distribution channels and challenging the brick-and-mortar retail market. It has also spawned new business models, ready to jump in and shorten the time between order and delivery. Consider Postmates’ on-demand delivery service. Now in 67 major cities across the country, this entrepreneurial company guarantees delivery of meals, groceries, office supplies, or anything else in less than 1 hour. You order it, and a Postmates team member will pick it up and deliver it to your doorstep. Amazon, the leader in this revolution, just received clearance from the FAA to test a commercial drone-delivery system for its customers while Uber is partnering with more than 400 merchant retailers and Spring mobile app to deliver same-day purchases. eBay is testing its version, eBay Now, which is a shopping app that allows users to receive merchandise from such brick-and-mortar stores as Walgreens, Target, and Nordstrom and deliver it to wherever you are whether at home, in the office, or at your favorite coffee cafe. Google, WalMart, UPS, and others have either established or are testing same-day delivery models.
Who or what is the driver behind this surge of innovative start-up business models and delivery services? According to a Harris poll, it’s the Millennials. This generational demographic comprises 75 million 18- to 34-year-olds, or nearly a quarter of the US population. According to a Harris poll conducted June 2014, 25% of Millennial respondents said they would pay a premium for same-day delivery, followed by 13% of Gen Xers and 9% of Baby Boomers.
So what does all this have to do with dentistry? Maybe nothing or maybe everything. It points to future generations who may have little patience for the status quo when it comes to getting what they want when they want it and will pay if it means greater convenience and time-savings. Will that impatience spill over into healthcare services, especially dentistry’s more simple indirect restorative procedures that today take 7 to 10 days to deliver? As dentistry moves toward a more digital future, the potential will not be lost on these “generation nexters.” The disruption and new business opportunities currently being experienced in the retail space may be a precursor for this industry.
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