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M-Commerce: The importance of being able to deliver locally, today, right now

I just can't wait to see something like this begin to get traction

It’s always exciting to see what’s launched at TechCrunch Disrupt. Postmates caught my attention. Have a quick read of this two para overview:

Today, at TechCrunch Disrupt, a new startup is launching that is aiming to bring some disruption to the courier space once and for all. Postmates is hoping to transform this niche industry in the same way that Uber is disrupting elite limo services and medallion taxicabs with an on demand delivery service that connects local couriers and bike messengers to anyone who needs to ship anything — from birthday cards to grand pianos.

Not only does the startup intend to disrupt how people send packages to each other in the same city, Postmates Founder Bastian Lehmann (who readers may know from his last startup, Curated.by) said that the service will also offer a same-day shipping API for brick-and-mortar retailers. For less than $20, any retailer will be able to offer local customers the ability to order goods online — and have them delivered the same day. (Lehmann said on stage today that the startup has already facilitated 300+ deliveries.)

via Postmates Aims To Be The Uber Of Packages — And More | TechCrunch.

I’m rather excited at the prospect of companies such as Postmates helping galvanise the mobile commerce world.

I’m increasingly getting frustrated by retailers offering ‘next day delivery’ when it’s nothing of the sort. For example, if you order something on Monday this is often the experience:

  • Monday: We’ll accept your order today and take the money
  • Tuesday: We’ll stick it in the post at some point through the day
  • Wednesday: If you’re really lucky — and we got to the postbox before noon, you’ll get the package today
  • Thursday: The package will actually arrive today

I know there are certainly exceptions from some firms who really take their logistics seriously.

I would definitely like to see next-day-delivery implemented properly by more retailers. But even more so, I’d really like to see local delivery fixed.

I’d like the Apple Store at Westfield to be able to ‘bike’ me a charger or an iPhone or *whatever*. Right now. Or within the next 2 hours (as Postmates suggests). I just want it done and I have limited patience.

The store is 6.6 miles away from me in Richmond. That’s 19 minutes by car or perhaps even quicker by bike.

Retailers, however, don’t have much choice beyond using recognised couriers like UPS, Parcelforce or DHL. They need an API that they can plug-in to and the logistics need to work properly.

At the same point, I’d like to be able to use this service personally. I routinely send things by courier — for instance when I borrowed a tablet recently from one mobile operator. They couriered it to me (on their dollar) and I couriered it back to them on my dollar. I think it cost me something like £70.

Seventy sodding pounds. I’m sure there’s a bike chap who’d have done it for £20. I’m sure there’s a thriving community of bikers out there willing to do the work.

Postmates talks about a maximum fee of $20 for delivery anywhere within the city of San Francisco within 2 hours. That’s highly reasonable.

If you can provide the platform, then I think the retailers, the consumers and the bikers would jump on it.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the team at Postmates get on.

Bon chance — and bring it to London soon!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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