Nothing beats one-stop shopping and I doubt that anything ever will. It saves us time, often money and it's ridiculously convenient. But, if I had to guess at what might eventually get us headed in a new direction, I would say that robotic replenishment may take us most of the way there. And, of course, Amazon is already out there leading the way.
When more than 70% of the stuff we buy religiously every week at the supermarket (or through online ordering) are the same commodity items, and the machines that watch and track our online purchases (with increasingly accurate bricks-and-mortar attribution) keep getting smarter and smarter, it's only a matter of time before "one-click" becomes "no-click" for most of us. Amazon will know before you do that your pet's vitamins are about to run out and ship you a refill before you ask.
The more comfortable we get with ordering or re-ordering the "usual" and having time-based standing orders, the tighter the hold that the automated fulfillment guys will have over us. It's hard to imagine how any competitor interrupts an automated transaction, even with a better offer, when there's no window to get in front of the customer. (See Why You Never Saw it Coming) At the same time, in the good news category, once we're free of the drudgery of dragging all the usual stuff home, our actual shopping at the market may once again be an awesome experience rather than an unavoidable chore as well as an opportunity to discover and try new things.
In the business world, we're also constantly on the lookout for tools and technology that can save us time, help us avoid reinventing the wheel, and, most importantly, create solutions that will attract and aggregate enough users, capital and technical resources to enable and justify the continuing development efforts required by the "owner" to invest and keep growing and enhancing the platform. We're more than willing to reward someone else for doing the heavy lifting for us and doing it better than we ever could as well. I've explained before that this is one of the reasons why platforms are so powerful (See The Primacy of the Platform)
It's just becoming more and more obvious that a few key players and central platforms in search, social and e-commerce are getting to the point where they will be controlling significant segments of the entire economy and our lives as well. You can describe this phenomenon as the result of successfully building a flywheel or as a dramatic demonstration of the power of momentum. (See The Future of Content Marketing) or simply attribute it to the "winner take all" world of innovative and disruptive technologies. Whatever you call it, it comes down to our desires to do as little as possible in the way of redundant and repetitive efforts and to simple math as well.
It doesn't matter who was first; it always comes down to who does it best and commits the dollars and the effort to maintain and even extend their edge on an ongoing basis, because the competitive bar never stops rising. These essential and substantial investments simply aren't the kinds of expenditures that individual users--regardless of their size-- can support and it's demonstrably a bad allocation of their scarce resources in any case because someone dedicated to the task will always be doing it better than they can. An inexpensive third-party platform that helps your employees service and reduce their student debt is a great example and a lot smarter than adding more expensive bodies to your HR department even if they were up to the task. (See Making Student Debt Less Sticky)
If your own internal effort (however well-intended) is a sideline or a sometime thing instead of being laser-focused and constantly top of mind, it's gonna lead to a second-rate result. This is exactly why startups can inject better and more focused products and services into large organizations than the big guys can usually develop and implement on their own. The startups bring purpose-built solutions provided by businesses trying to do one thing really right while there a million things that need to get done on the plates of the IT guys at the corporate giants. (See Outside In is the New Way to Win.)
But it's also the case that large, established providers can design and develop aggregated solutions that are right in their wheelhouse and then help to amortize and distribute some of their own investment by licensing or otherwise making these tools available to others in the marketplace-- including many of their own customers and even in some instances competitors. Getting customers to adopt these new tools is a great way to have them do more of the necessary work on their own and conserves your own resources.
In the platform business, almost any incremental volume is good volume and users are users regardless (in most cases) of who or where the traffic is coming from. ComScore's new Activation solution suite creates audience segments that can then be deployed internally or through third-party ad tech platforms. To benefit their clients, ComScore has already forward-integrated its solution into more than 15 different vendors' offerings including products from Centro, Salesforce, Adobe, etc.
Some of the smartest big guys (like KeyBank and Hertz) have figured out how to partner with super tech-savvy startups like Snapsheet in Chicago to create systems that will change the way whole industries (like banking, insurance and vehicle rental) do business in short order. Whether it's photo documentation, aggregated payment walls for multi-channel remittances, or delivering better, smarter and faster customer-centric experiences in the field - Snapsheet and its corporate partners continue to lead the way and develop new answers.
Of course, there are clear competitive exceptions that we are starting to see, especially in the race to dominate and control the media expenditures of consumers. Amazon's Echo Show won't play YouTube videos. Wonder why-- especially when Amazon is Google's largest customer? Keep in mind that Amazon is now dominating search for high-value items with a share almost twice that of Google. This is also clearly why Disney is pulling its offerings from Netflix and starting its own streaming services. And, it's why CBS is carving out its sports offerings from ESPN to build its own live streaming service. Facebook and Apple are still trying to figure out how to move more aggressively into the exploding streaming media space and who they decide to cooperate with and who they decide to crush will make for a great soap opera. Frenemies forever, I guess.
The one-stop strategy really hasn't changed, it's just repeating itself in different industries at an accelerating rate. Until human nature radically changes, and don't hold your breath waiting, we'll always gravitate to the one-stop shops, the easiest and most accessible solutions, the pre-built answers and already in-place tracks. In fact, we're much more productive in our own businesses as well when we stick to our knitting, focus on what we can do best, and let someone else build the massive infrastructure and platforms that will eventually connect us all.
We'll all end up paying the platform "pipers" for the privilege and sometimes being gouged by the gatekeepers (like Netflix, which is raising its rates again), but honestly most of us won't really mind.