The sharing economy and peer-to-peer network services open a completely new mental model. Old service industries can be reshaped with new data and mobile technology. One of those is the postal service. A service operating since the 18th century in many countries now experiences a boom in parcel delivery. A growing trend of internet purchases make sure that parcel deliverers flourish the last 5 to 10 years. But what if we just removed all those distribution centers? It’s just another object going from A to B in a society where there are already so many forms of transportation, movements of persons, cars and people searching for some extra job and cash. A networking platform such as AirBnB or Uber could easily connect a seller with the purchaser.
Traditionally a store has a distribution center and, within it, a fulfillment service of order pickers putting goods into packages, which will be taken by truck to a parcel service distribution center. The network of delivery addresses covered are huge, and the costs are shared by all of us. The business model is mainly driven on economy of scale and efficiency.
The two requirements needed for the current delivery logistics is a fulfilment service or location and a central distribution point. In case the goods are decentralized, or in the store itself, then a peer-to-peer system can be beneficial. Currently an ordered good or parcel from a store around the corner will travel hundreds of miles in order to be delivered at your door the next day. Which is not efficient at all. Wouldn’t it be easier if you can continue to do the shopping, and a neighbor can drive to the store and pick up your parcel? The only requirements here are: a marketplace function and deliverers who are on time.
Crowdsourced Logistics is born! Average citizens, and small entrepreneurs deliver parcels during their normal daily commute. The platform is a peer-to-peer app on your smartphone. This idea of a sharing economy offers even new possibilities. Same day delivery is now within reach. Parcels which normally would be picked up to be transferred to a distribution center have the ability to reach the customer instantly and for a competitive price.
Several companies start experimenting with these kind of new logistic solutions. The most notable is Amazon with their Amazon Flex Program. Also Start-ups as Uber Rush, Instacart, and Parcify in Belgium, and known logistic giants as DHL with the MyWays app in Sweden. Now the initiatives are there, only the legal and logistical implications need to be figured out.