With services like Amazon Prime Now creeping into the ecommerce arena, it’s more important than ever for online businesses to have easy, affordable shipping options. At the same time, we’re seeing a new trend take hold that puts shipping in the hands of consumers. Thanks to the Internet, crowdsourcing has grown quickly in popularity, and enterprising entrepreneurs are thinking of new ways to leverage the power of the masses.
A new service may lead the way for a future in which shipping is handled by travelers rather than shipping companies. Billed as “the Uber for shipping and delivery,” Roadie lets users send items through other users. Instead of personal carpooling, Roadie provides carpooling for packages.
Founder and CEO Marc Gorlin came up with the idea when he needed to get some bathroom tile from Birmingham to his place in Perdido Key, Florida. He knew someone was likely en route from Birmingham to Florida at that very moment, but there was no way to find that person and pay him or her to drive the tiles down for him.
Roadie is the app resulting from that experience, and it is Gorlin’s way of putting people in contact with one another so that they can help each other out.
How It Works
With interest from top investors like TomorrowVentures and the investment arm of UPS, Roadie is expected to cause major disruption in the shipping industry. Using an iOS or Android device, customers create a listing, called a Gig, that details what needs to be shipped, as well as its origin and destination addresses.
Once the information is entered, Roadie finds a driver whose route matches a user’s needs. Shippers post pictures and details about their items and Roadies decide which Gigs to accept. Because both parties are given the right to choose the users they work with, the process is fully transparent. Once the item is on its way, members can track its progress in real time.
Services like Roadie are different from your typical shipping carrier because they let consumers handle transporting items. Similarly, InstaCart uses local residents for its grocery delivery service rather than relying on grocery store employees. All of these services give consumers a chance to make extra money without committing to a regular schedule.
The shipping industry as a whole is becoming much more consumer-centric. People want the ability to control when and how their packages are delivered, so tech disruptors – like Roadie – are stepping in to fulfill that need. This is only the first crop of innovators and we can expect to see more companies get involved as the sharing economy continues to grow. We may even see small businesses use these apps and services to compete with big corporations.
One thing’s for sure – it’s certainly an exciting time to work in shipping.