Crowd-shipping: The next big thing in the sharing economy?

I can well imagine that crowd-shipping opens up new ways to respond to the needs and wants of the future consumer, in particular in the area of delivering goods bought online.

The sharing economy enables new ways of transportation by connecting those who need Crowdshippingparcel deliveries with those who are on the road. The main drivers of so called “crowd-shipping” are the rapid growth in online retailing, the desire to find new ways of overcoming the traditional problems of ‘last mile’ delivery and increasing interest, in some socio-economic groups, in supplementing earnings with casual work. Global B2C online sales are expected to grow from $1 trillion in 2012 to around $2.4 trillion by 2017. In China alone the number of packages transported by express delivery surged by 820% in the six years ending 2014. Across the globe capacity of ‘last mile’ delivery systems will have to expand enormously to cope with the expected volume growth.

Companies providing online platforms for crowd-shipping differ in their market focus, although the described way of operating is similar. Some platforms cater more for professional couriers: for example, it is estimated that, ‘at Zipments 95% of couriers are professional delivery folks with more than four years of experience’. Others like Rideshare, MyWay and Shippies rely on ordinary people. Deliv tends to specialize in deliveries from shopping malls of products that were either bought there or purchased online on a ‘click and collect’ basis.

The legacy of the financial crisis in many countries has forced a lot of people to search for new ways of generating extra income or subsidising their travel costs. Crowd-shipping allows us to carry and deliver parcels at highly attractive prices with low incremental burden on the environment, by people who can earn some extra money and, possibly, the satisfaction of supporting their local neighbourhood.

This blog was originally posted on the World Economic Forum Agenda.

Author: Professor Alan McKinnon, Professor and Head of Logistics at Kühne Logistics University, Germany. Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Logistics & Supply Chains. Wolfgang Lehmacher, Director, Head of Supply Chain and Transport, Mobility Industries, World Economic Forum.

Image: A worker loads packages onto a bicycle as he prepares to deliver them in central Beijing, December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Staff

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