Covers a lot of the same ground as Liz Gannes’ “I Want It Now” Series for Re:Code. Because the “Uber for X” model is so pervasive across so many different categories, it’s hard to speak in generalities to say they’re either all derivatives of “first world problems,” for lazy and/or rich people or B. that they’re the future of jobs, commerce etc. I think the model works well in some instances and not in others.
The bigger thing to me is whether or not all of these, particularly ones that rely on physical transportation, can scale to suburbia. From Sarah’s piece:
Not only that, but I live outside the Valley – and outside the city – so the things that are built and hyped as the “future of local services” don’t really touch me at this time. At least, not unless I move. Or until they scale to suburbia and beyond – aka 50% of the world today. Still, despite this sort of separateness from a large part of the on-demand, sharing-economy movement, I understand that much of what first gets offered to the better-off city dweller may eventually trickle down to the everyman or everywoman. (Or at least, this is the argument.) While some things will only scale to the urban centers, others could come to small town/middle America.
If you think about it, even big companies like Seamless that were able to scale on-demand food delivery in cities 7-8 years ago were never able to scale out in suburbia. Can a service like Sprig move beyond the SFs/NYs/LAs and cater to the rest of the country? Not so sure. I think making services like that work will require developers and an accompanying thought process that exists outside of the typical Silicon Valley bubble.
When it comes to receiving packages in the mail, we want the best of both worlds: we want the safety and comfort of knowing that our package is being shipped on-time and isn’t being left unattended somewhere to be stolen or damaged by inclement weather etc. But we also don’t like the inconvenience of carving out time to be at home or at the office at a particular time, provided we’re fortunate enough to even able to make that decision in the first place. (busy schedules and all). Unfortunately, this is how delivery through USPS, UPS, FedEx etc. has traditionally worked: for most people, if you’re not there when the package is delivered and can’t sign for it, you’re SOL. Luckily, I happen to live within a short driving distance of a FedEx distribution facility and can pick up any FedEx-shipped package up to 8 PM. But most people don’t have that luxury and it still requires an extra trip.
A team in San Francisco is trying to solve this dilemma with a mobile app and accompanying service called Luna. Your package is shipped to Luna’s distribution center and delivery is made in the evening, at a time of your choosing, anytime between 7 PM and midnight. According to their website, they’re able to handle deliveries of all sizes (within reason, I’m sure) and provide insurance of up to $1000 on each package.
Locker solutions I see as a half-measure to solve this problem. It’s still an errand you have to run. The place that houses the locker still has to be open when you’re done your day. That’s fine if it’s in a 7-11 but worse if it’s in a coffee shop that closes at 7 or 8.
The app is currently available for iOS and can be downloaded here. Like much of the technology-driven, on-demand delivery market, the service is only available in San Francisco for now; however, assuming they can scale the business, I imagine they’ll begin branching out to the other major metros in due time.