Startup Idea: On-demand Delivery

Many factors are coming together to make this viable.

As 2014 turns to 2015, logistics and delivery are on a lot of people’s minds.  The idea of selling products at a low rate and then having a hard time getting them to your (then increasingly annoyed) customers is weighing on the thoughts of many business owners.  Wanting to compete with businesses that thrive on a home-delivery model has encouraged many brick-and-mortar stores to add delivery components.  Those considering a startup in the logistics and delivery field are probably on to something, and we’ll now take a closer look at this industry.

Deliv is one of the success stories in this field, having garnered more than its share of press.  Their website proclaims, “If you were offered SAME DAY DELIVERY for the price of standard 3-5 day shipping, you’d be delighted.  Obviously.”  Deliv heralds its crowdsourcing model, matching drivers to locations, adding its service to retailers’ websites. Deliv keeps itself fluid and dynamic, offering to hire freelance drivers who have an Android or iPhone with a date and text plan.  Drivers work as much or little as they want.  It’s a good example of using technology to spread your company’s reach as far as you need, with as much flexibility as you need.  If you are a retailer and you’d like your product delivered, just sign up for their service.

WeDeliver uses roughly the same model, while Zipments adds to it quite a few enhancements.  It seems to be for NYC only, but once a customer has made a purchase to be delivered, he or she can track the progress of the delivery, even communicating with the courier during the process.  Of course, in a post Yelp/Amazon et al world, you can rate your courier’s performance.

Some of these startups are finding ways of offering rates that compete with amazon.  Prime members can get same-day delivery from Amazon for $5.99.  Deliv sometimes can go as low as $5 depending on the retailer, while $8-$10 is standard.  Everlane goes as low as $4.99 for one item, with free delivery for multiple items.

Karen Katz, CEO of Neiman Marcus says, “These delivery options, I think it’s all part of what the customer is expecting these days.”  The market is there and the available workforce seems to be there as well.

One wonders if retailers will start developing their own delivery infrastructures, making things rougher for startups devoted entirely to the field.  Right now, retailers seem happy to leave the logistics to someone else.

Some of the push to fast-fast-fast delivery seems to have come from Jeff Bezos’ proclamation that he’d start delivering Amazon product via drone aircraft.  That specter does a few things for people who may embark on a delivery startup.  For one, it looms as a threat, while giving inspiration for an idea on how to stay a step ahead.  It also calls for ideas on what sorts of startups can be started in response for a demand for drone deliveries.  The circle of entrepreneurship keeps turning.