Crowdshipping is the delivery of goods based on the selection of a courier closest to the delivery route. The service was inspired by crowdsourcing, or the act of enlisting a group of people to help with a project, and is already growing quite rapidly. Couriers typically provide one-day shipping (or less) and the cost is frequently less expensive than traditional shipping methods.
Scientists and commercial researchers began looking for ways to harness the technical advantages of crowdsourcing in 2013, and soon, Deliv, a Palo Alto- based company, announced their intention to start a large crowdshipping operation. The company relies on couriers to deliver purchases from retail outlets to their customers. In December 2013, Deliv announced their alliances with several large mall operators, which further solidified their presence in the retail market.
Most of Deliv’s retail partners provide a Deliv API directly on their website, which gives customers the ability to select courier delivery directly online. Additionally, the API provides GPS info on routing, approximate delivery time, and even real-time tracking. Deliv relies on their couriers’ GPS-enabled smartphones to supply customers with tracking information.
Couriers typically provide one or two day delivery, and can deliver in any time window. They can deliver to the customer’s home, office, or anywhere in-between. Deliv is based out of Palo Alto and locations can be found on their website.
Another crowdshipping startup is Zipments, a local delivery service created and available in New York City. Zipments is targeted toward retail, professional service firms, restaurant, and personal deliveries. Customers can request a delivery through the Zipments website, the Zipments mobile app, or the Zipments API on select retail websites.
Zipments couriers use built-in mapping and GPS to navigate to their destination on the Zipments for Couriers app. The app also tracks current and past deliveries. Zipments is currently only available in NYC, but is working on expanding to more cities.
Ultimately, the development of mobile GPS has led to both the expansion of delivery options and quicker delivery. There are courier services available in most large cities.