The average person living in a big city can get almost anything delivered in about 30 minutes: toilet paper, tacos or even tequila. While the pandemic solidified shoppers’ need for speed (and convenience), delivery businesses are starting to leverage technology to ease some of the headaches rapid delivery has caused, from underpaid gig workers to congested curbs to increased traffic emissions.
At last week's Curbivore conference, businesses in the delivery space opined on how to improve rapid delivery in the panel “Going the Extra Mile – Building A World Designed for Delivery.”
Yummy, a Los Angeles-area grocery delivery service, promises that busy consumers can get their groceries in about 30 minutes. Its delivery workers are employees, not gig workers, and they pull groceries from Yummy’s own physical storefronts instead of dark stores. According to co-founder and CEO Barnaby Montgomery, this investment in communities and workers has paid off.
Other companies in the delivery space have focused on improving metrics for delivery drivers, who are often part-time gig workers. Over 85% of the delivery drivers for Pico Mobility, a merchant platform and e-moped subscription service operating in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, work less than 20 hours per week. The company says it works to reduce barriers to employment.
“Sixty percent of the people who would like to make money [doing] delivery do not have access to a vehicle,” said Pico co-founder and CEO Emre Ucer. Pico gives delivery drivers access to e-mopeds on a subscription basis. The e-mopeds are right-sized for food delivery, which decreases the congestion caused by larger delivery vehicles and makes delivery a more eco-friendly option, he said.
Pico’s delivery platform also gives drivers a dedicated delivery zone, making their income more predictable and cutting down on travel time and distance.
Meanwhile, last-mile location company Beans.ai is working to reduce the headache drivers face trying to find a dropoff point with Google Maps alone.
“We all want our customers to get the delivery with one click. There should be no interaction with the driver,” said Akash Agarwal, founder and chief business officer. “The driver should not be calling you: ‘Where are you? I can't find you. Where is your apartment? What's your gate code? Do you have a dog?’” With Beans.ai, specific delivery data lives in the app for drivers to access, maximizing their time and income and minimizing idling, circling and parking.
Currently, venture capital money subsidizes many delivery businesses, but new pricing models might replace free and cheap delivery as the market matures. This right-sizing of consumer expectations might also reduce the delivery burden on cities.
“It is pretty difficult right now to find that sweet spot with the super-high expectations that you have of getting free delivery,” said Maria Shapiro, partnerships lead at delivery platform Nash.