On-Demand Delivery Services Are Helping Small Businesses Compete

If same-day delivery is one of the last customer experience battlegrounds, these crowdsourced courier companies can help you win.
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Same-day delivery isn't new for some industries. Take a hint from florists and see how this service could work for your business. (Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock)

“We are living in an increasingly on-demand world,” said Daphne Carmeli, founder and CEO of on-demand same-day delivery startup Deliv. “With time as one of our most precious commodities, consumers have quickly begun to expect everything to be available when they want it.”

You can thank Amazon for getting consumers hooked on instant gratification. And as every small business owner knows, once consumer expectations are set, there’s no going back. A recent study by McKinsey & Company found 23 percent of consumers are willing to pay a premium for same-day delivery, which the company predicts will make up a quarter of all package deliveries within the next decade.

Related: Should You Offer Free Shipping?

Startups like Deliv, Roadie, Postmates and UberRUSH are working to help small businesses quench the thirst for immediate fulfillment.

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“We are living in an increasingly on-demand world. With time as one of our most precious commodities, consumers have quickly begun to expect everything to be available when they want it.” -Daphne Carmeli (Photo: Daphne Carmeli)

The Deliv platform lets businesses in 17 markets schedule same-day delivery for local customers using either an API or online portal. Prices start at $12.50. Just as with Uber and other crowdsourcing platforms, people can sign up to drive for Deliv using their own vehicle and have the flexibility to choose the deliveries they want to take on.

Speaking of Uber, UberRUSH works similarly. For $6 within 1 mile and $3 per extra mile, small businesses can have their goods delivered to local customers in San Francisco, Chicago and New York by UberRUSH drivers.

San Francisco-based Postmates also offers same day delivery, in a large handful of cities, through an API that leverages local couriers. According to its website, “Our revolutionary Urban Logistics platform connects customers with local couriers who can deliver anything from any store or restaurant in minutes.”

Related: How to Bake a Superior Customer Experience into Your Business

Same day delivery isn’t new for some businesses, like florists and larger grocery stores. But as services like Deliv expand into new markets, some of these businesses are outsourcing their deliveries, and saving money in the process.

Carmeli pointed to one florist, BloomThat, who found success using Deliv. After burning through “an incredible amount of cash” trying to manage deliveries in-house, the business handed off delivery to Deliv. Carmeli said the florist was able to drastically cut costs and has since grown to offer bouquets nationwide.

Flowers have a short shelf life, but even some fashion boutique owners have started using on-demand same day delivery. Small fashion boutique Sam & Lex uses UberRUSH to deliver to nearby customers in New York City. According to a testimonial on the UberRUSH site, “We’ll post a new look on Instagram, someone messages us about it, and they’re trying it on at home 20 minutes later.”

Need a chocolate rush? You may be able to have a fix delivered to your door. On-demand courier platforms are opening up the game to candy shops, bakeries and liquor stores. Chocolate Opulence in Los Angeles provides same day local delivery to its customers, and a growing number of specialty bake shops are leveraging courier apps rather than hiring their own delivery staff.

Crowdsourced delivery services are also stepping in to help when people need it the most: when they’re sick. To keep under-the-weather customers from spreading germs around the store, some pharmacy chains, such as Walgreens and Target, are letting couriers “do the dirty work” by delivering prescriptions and healthcare supplies to doors. It’s also nice for the consumer, who can focus on getting better.

Even service-based businesses are getting on board. Dry cleaners, tailors and jewelry repair companies are using on-demand delivery services to get items entrusted to their care back to customers quickly, without requiring the consumer to come in for a pick up.

Between same day delivery and the rise of mobile businesses that include and nail salons and trailer-based kids’ parties, consumers might never have to leave the house, except to walk the dog. (But of course, businesses have that task covered, too.)

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