A Proprietary Delivery Network…INSANITY
There seem to be daily announcements from technology companies that have local delivery as part of their offerings: Munchery, Postmates, Shyp, Instacart, Sprig, and a host of others. Each of these new companies faces significant challenges when introducing, and cost-effectively scaling, their delivery operations in new markets. Matching up supply (i.e., drivers) with demand (orders) is a challenge and usually results in back-breaking Yelp reviews and disastrous customer challenges. Check out the poor reviews for each of these companies, and more often than not, they’re due to delivery issues. Worse, the cost of recruiting, building, and managing these proprietary delivery networks requires serious capital and clumsy geographical roll-outs.
Does every new tech company really need to build a proprietary delivery network? A shared delivery network, where multiple shippers access the same set of drivers and carriers, would improve availability, broaden geographical coverage, and dramatically lower costs. This shared supply model emerged in airline ticket shopping (i.e., SABRE), pharmaceutical distribution (e.g., McKesson), office supplies (United Stationers), and other industries as they matured. Why not learn from history and start out on the right foot? I fully expect the shared model to emerge in local delivery (led by Grand Junction); it would free up all these emerging companies to focus on where their value creation really lies: on sales, marketing, and the consumer front-end instead of the back-end logistics.