The ‘Uber-fication’ of the Moving Industry

In the past few years, “uber-fication” has reshaped industries across the country, transforming them from paper-and-pencil operations to industries that are dominated by convenience technology and on-demand service delivery. “Uber-fication” first transformed the grocery delivery and home cleaning services industries, and the car service and taxi industries soon followed. Next on deck for 2016? The moving industry.

In 2015, we saw the growth of a new cohort of hyper-localized, next-generation niche moving companies that connect consumers with moving services with the tap of a button. More than ever, we’ve seen how they now command a larger slice of the moving pie, facilitating anything from furniture delivery to storage logistics. For example, Bellhops (with locations including Washington, DC, Atlanta, Raleigh, Charlotte, Dallas, and Chicago) the company that partners with college students to provide on-demand moving services, now operates in over 80 cities across the country. Dolly, a moving app that facilitates micro-moves, has raised $8M in Series A funding this year. Shockingly, according to recent reports, it’s estimated that venture capitalists have funneled approximately $18M into these companies within the last two years alone.

Niche vs. end-to-end moving services

As we’ve seen in 2015, these companies are transforming the way that consumers move. They’re segmenting the traditional, full-service move into several stages. Smaller companies now specialize in providing niche moving services, rather than offering an end-to-end moving experience like traditional movers. For example, truck-on-demand companies like Buddytruck target small-scale moves, connecting consumers with truck owners that apply to be movers. Another larger player, Simple Moving Labor, specializes in loading and unloading rental trucks or storage units, while King of Storage, SpareFoot, connects movers with self-storage units in their area.

As these companies gain more traction, they’re transforming the competitive landscape for traditional, full-service moving companies across the country. Moving companies fear that they won’t be able to keep pace with the technology and the demand for these services, particularly in urban markets. So, what can a moving company take away from these trends as we look ahead to 2016?

Agile companies will make it out alive

In 2016, agile companies that can adapt quickly to new industry trends will thrive. For many moving companies, this will mean extending their operations into new verticals and yes, partnering with the new players.

As the industry continues to innovate, we can only expect that there will be more opportunity to “partner up.” Whether we like it or not, our industry’s changing, and moving companies must continue to diversify their operations as much as possible. Don’t miss an incredible opportunity to work alongside the top innovators in the space!

Automation matters more than ever

The growth of on-demand moving services tells us one simple fact – incorporating technology into your core business operations matters. Consumers are hungry for digital experiences, and finally there’s a way to help out. As we head into 2016, moving companies across the country are abandoning old tools and trading them in for new technology solutions to streamline their operations.

For example, several moving companies work with core software providers, like MoveHQ, to help them automate time-consuming processes. Core software for moving companies help moving companies offer Updater to their customers, streamline customer reporting, ease drivers’ lives, track warehouse items, and so much more.

First impressions matter

The rise of niche moving services also tells us that the new players have placed a premium on delivering superior customer service.

In 2016, moving companies will need to raise the bar on their customer service delivery in order to remain competitive. In fact, moving companies that are ahead of the game have already started to partner with companies that specifically focus on offering a superior customer experience. For example, several moving companies partner with Move for Hunger, a nonprofit that seamlessly picks up unwanted food from customers on moving day. Close to home, several moving companies also use Updater to help their customers check off dreaded moving-related tasks like connecting utilities and updating all accounts and records.

As we look ahead to 2016, the stakes are high. Like all the “uber-ized” industries before us, our industry will continue to face a “race to disrupt” next year. Moving companies will need to innovate, automate, and rely heavily on technology solutions simply to meet their customers’ expectations. So dip your feet or jump right in – either way, now’s the time!

Jenna Weinerman
Jenna Weinerman

Jenna is Updater’s VP of Marketing and a published relotech expert. She’s an endless seeker of knowledge, a lover of craft brews, and a huge Philadelphia sports fan. Follow her on Twitter here.

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Comments (11)

The world is changing rapidly. The moving industry is being disrupted because today's consumers are more informed, and they value their time. Gone are the days where you buy a truck, paint your colors on it, sit back and wait for the phone to ring....as we've seen with the taxi cab industry. On-demand moving and delivery apps like Dolly, Lugg, Phlatbed, and Uber have changed the industry. We'll see more innovation downstream, and consumers are demanding more.

I have used phlatbed fairly recently. compared to others it was simple and straightforward. Used it a few times now and no issues at all. It's exactly that...on-demand deliveries and for moving or junk stuff. Dolly is good too, but only used it once with my boyfriends weekend move. Another poster said the apps are big in certain parts depending on where you are...I've found that to be true even for Uber.

GH

nice information

Thanks for the post. Our company definitely wants to create a great first impression. We also strive to adapt to technology as it evolves and improves the moving industry. Your post has given us some good things to think about.

It does sound like a smart idea which provides convenience to homeowners who need a moving truck to help them move items to a self storage or a new home. However, how is the demand for such services like and is it really economical to establish an entirely new business focusing on moving trucks alone? Perhaps the target market is still small and this business could be launched on a small scale to conduct an experiment to study market demand first.

Thank you for all of these great tips. I hadn't heard about Move for Hunger prior to this post. I always felt so badly about the food left behind when moving. Now I can share this kind tip with my readers at The Art of Happy Moving - thank you!

Hey Jeff, we actually partner with HireAHelper. They're fantastic :)

The world is demanding solutions that are not only quicker and cheaper but on demand as well, and although it puts a strain on businesses in a way, isn't this what drives technology and progress? I can only imagine what we are capable of when we continue to fight to be the best competitor in the race to be the best supplier or services and products to our customers.

Change is the element that fuels the moving industry yet as an industry, we resist it, hoping it will go away. These new services will need time to mature and get to a level of consistent quality. The marketplace will eliminate the weak and more will rise to take their place as methodology and customer desire find their equilibrium. For now, it's exciting, challenging, concerning and thought provoking. Consumers, fueled by the power of technology, are driving this change. It's not going away. The traditional van lines have the knowledge and network infrastructure to excel in this new environment as long as change becomes the element that fuels their thinking.

There have been many companies that have tried to do this in the past. And, I know there are about 20 or so start-ups with $5mil+ in funding. I totally love uber - for car rides. It's easy - there are 2 variables. Moving, unfortunately has multitudes of variables so I cannot see this ever working as a system for anything more than a small, couple piece move. Other companies that have tried usually end up as glorified moving brokers. All of the "uber movers" have to get brokers licenses in the states they operate in unless hiring independent contractors which means no insurance, taxes, etc. In the meantime, private moving companies with franchises like www.movingcompanyfranchise.com have been implementing smaller, boutique locations with efficient, consistent service for larger residential moves. There is a higher level of quality control when choosing a franchise like www.monstermovers.com

You should also look at a company called HireAHelper when it comes to hiring (accredited, insured, experienced) hourly moving laborers that will load and unload a rental truck or portable storage container. Services like Bellhops and Dolly aren't going to provide professional movers. Instead, you get a couple of college students, or a weekend warrior with a pickup truck. HireAHelper provides the hourly labor you need, with the professional experience you can trust.