Last week Belgian Postal Company bpost launched bringr, which they themselves call an innovative, collaborative platform app. Consumers and companies alike can use the smartphone app to find a driver for delivering their goods. These drivers are not working for a bpost, but private people have registered as drivers in the bringr app.
How Does It Work?
- You install the app and create an account (you can register as a shipper and/or as a driver).
- You enter the details of your shipments (size, weight, destination, pick-up and delivery time), and the app looks for an available driver.
- The driver picks up the package, and both the sender and the receiver can follow the driver’s progress in real-time with the app.
- The sender gets a notification once the shipment has been delivered. Senders can rate drivers to ensure quality.
- Payment is made through the app, with a small fee for bpost.
Haven’t I Seen This Before?
Crowdsourced delivery and Uber-like approaches to shipping goods are not new. Uber themselves have launched several shipping concepts, like UberRUSH, UberFRESH and UberEATS. Walmart launched a similar idea around April 2013: they wanted shoppers to deliver groceries on their way home from Walmart shopping. Another Crowdsourced delivery concept is PiggyBee, which launched in 2012. PiggyBee connects travellers to people that want them to bring something to or from where they are going. Yet another concept, which is very similar to the bringr concept, is Roadie, on which you can read more here. Another startup is Sidecar, which launched a service to transport both goods and people from A to B, combining the two services in one. The last one I like to mention here is Dutch startup Sjipit, which aims at professional drivers with space to spare in their vans.
But Isn’t That Bad for Business?
This seems a surprising move, as this new service seems to be competing directly with bpost’s regular service. That is not the case, according to bpost spokesperson Barbara Van Speybroek. She told Knack.be: “It is more expensive than sending a package through the post office, but it is cheaper than using an express carrier. The service is priced to make it an addition to our current offering.” The price of a shipment will depend on variables like size, weight and distance.
It’s interesting to see an “old school” company as a national postal company move into crowdsourced deliveries. The pilot project is in the Antwerp region. Shipments can only be picked up in that region but can be shipped anywhere. If the pilot is successful, bpost will roll it out to other cities.
Koen Van Gerven, the bpost CEO, said: “The digitization of our world represents threats but offers opportunities at the same time. We don’t have to fear digitization but embrace it and use it to make bpost a stronger company. This is what innovation is about, and bringr is a good example of this.”