Crowdsourced Delivery Is Changing the Last-Mile Delivery Game

Crowdsourced Delivery

Updated on: August 10, 2022

The movie or book series of Harry Potter has a separate fanbase for the spells casted in it. We used to imagine ourselves as Hogwarts students and repeat the spell used in it. One such spell used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was Accio. This spell Accio summons objects towards the person who casts the spell. 

When I started writing a blog on crowdsourced delivery service, I found this model similar to the spell of Accio. When we order a food item from Instacart, Doordash, Grubhub, UberEats or Postmates, they bring it to us quickly. Looks like the spell of Accio from Harry Potter might have inspired the idea of crowdsourced delivery services!

What is crowdsourced delivery ? 

Crowdsourced delivery is the modern and emerging fulfilment method that uses a network of local couriers or independent contractors(crowdsourced drivers) to deliver products to consumers quickly. Businesses looking to satisfy their customers on-demand and same-day delivery needs adopt crowdsourced delivery services.

Why are crowdsourced delivery services gaining popularity?

Crowdsourced delivery, also known as crowdsourced shipping, is being seen as the solution to some real-world last-mile delivery problems. This emerging method is used to deliver packages to customers by leveraging non-professional and local courier services. The delivery method is growing popular in the face of customer delivery demand, as companies struggle to compete with giants such as Amazon that rule the retail market. In fact, even the big players are dipping their toes into the market—Amazon is recruiting independent couriers with Amazon Flex.

One of the reasons why crowdsourced solutions are attractive is because of reduced costs and the flexibility that comes with it. This flexibility also makes crowdsourced shipping more popular with meal-kit and grocery delivery since the supply and demand keep fluctuating and it is easier to meet these challenges. The few concerns with crowdsourced delivery are around reliability, brand consistency and regional differences in regulations and policies. 

How Does Crowdsourced Delivery Work?

The purpose of crowdsourced delivery is to maximize supply chain efficiency. Typically, this arrangement is made in partnership with companies that offer delivery as a service and manage a fleet of crowdsourced gig workers. Companies that have strong customer-facing brands reach a wider audience for their products by offering e-commerce marketplaces. Listed are steps that are followed in a successful crowdsourced fulfilment method:

  1. An order is placed by the prospective customer at a crowdsourced delivery platform.
  2. Order is received by the retailer. 
  3. A professional or independent courier service is allocated by the retailer to fulfil the order. 
  4. Product is delivered to the customer via the courier agent.
  5. Product is received by the customer. 

What Makes Crowdsourced Delivery Work?

According to a study conducted by Zebra Technologies in 2019, about 90% of retailers are expected to shift to crowdsourced delivery by 2028. Crowdsourced delivery is advantageous to both retailers as well as their customers. The main issues tackled here are of cost, convenience, speed and efficiency. This is a big promise and does not come without its drawbacks. However, the positives are aplenty. For instance, companies can get orders to their customers very quickly—sometimes in less than an hour. Since the contracted couriers come with their vehicles, they are paid by the hour or for each shift. Thus companies don’t have to bear the cost of full-time employees and can save on fleet management, warehousing, employee benefits, among other things. Crowdsource delivery is a great example of a tech-heavy and asset-light operation. 

For the prospective customer, this means greater control, complete visibility and instant gratification. This model has worked admirably in urban areas where the delivery density is high and has helped speed up deliveries. It also works as a great stop-gap solution till companies can figure out their delivery network. 

Along with expediting the fulfilment and making customers happy crowdsource delivery is also recognized as a trend that is here to stay. DaaS or Delivery-as-a-Service model marketplaces that can connect you to a network of local truck and van owners. Good examples of this are Uber Eats, Postmates and Doordash. Although DaaS is popular with food and restaurant industries, it doesn’t restrict itself to them. Retailers are slowly but steadily viewing crowdsourced delivery as an answer to same-day-shipping, which, according to a survey by Trustev, is an expectation of 56% of millennials.

What Is the Role of Technology in Crowdsourced Delivery?

The most important role of tech in crowdsourced delivery service is to create a centralized platform for delivery management. Apps provide real-time visibility across the supply chain, driver apps ensure communication and delivery flow, customer apps allow product tracking and support contactless proof of delivery. You can also control the use of crowdsourced fleets and respond to seasonal or hourly demands, and create alerts for customers as well as the managers when deliveries are running late. The data retrieved from this tech can help you compare performance and make better financial decisions in the future. 

Challenges Faced With Crowdsourced Delivery

Like all good things, crowdsourced delivery comes with its own set of challenges, the biggest of which is maintaining consistency and control in order to adhere to the branding of the company. Real-time data for dispatchers, post-delivery feedback, customer feedback as well as control over customers can be tricky to account for. Private vehicles also make it difficult to determine the time it takes in traffic. Employees undertake strict training programmes so as to adhere to the company values, which cannot be controlled when partnering with third-party delivery providers. 

What the Future of Crowdsourcing Platform Looks Like

Considering that consumer expectations in urban areas will only go up, crowdsourced delivery is here to stay. US consumers have shown great interest in same-day deliveries even if they hesitate to pay extra money for it. Urban areas with large volumes of deliveries on a daily basis are expected to accept this change with open arms. Companies can add crowdsourced deliveries as an additional option to the traditional delivery models.  

Locus offers an AI-enabled dispatch management platform for enterprises to improve delivery efficiencies and elevate customer satisfaction. Get in touch with our experts for a quick tour of our solutions.

[Infographics] Crowdsourced Delivery is Here to Stay
Infographic by Locus

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