There’s no doubt that online shopping has changed the face of the retail industry. We can now order almost anything from clothing to holidays, electronics and gifts from the comfort of our couches, writes Ruth Doris.
Irish consumers spent €5bn online in 2017, according to the latest Consumer Market Monitor.
While consumers have embraced the convenience of e-commerce, a huge drawback is the two to five days’ wait to have the purchased item delivered, according to Alan Hickey, co-founder of same-day delivery service, WeBringg.
“We live in a time of instant gratification,” he said.
“Whether it’s Paddy Power on your phone or Netflix or Just Eat. It’s ‘give it to me now’.”
The idea for WeBringg was sparked during a conversation between lifelong friends, Mr Hickey and his co-founder Sean Murray at a house party. The financial adviser, who had forgotten to buy his wife a birthday present, was wondering why can’t you buy stuff online and get it delivered the same way food gets delivered.
“It was that old cliché of ‘isn’t that brilliant idea so simple?’. It was a case of stepping back and looking at something differently and having that ‘ah ha’ moment,” Mr Hickey said.
Amazon already offers a same-day delivery for members of its Prime service in the US and UK. It’s only a matter of time before the service is introduced in Ireland, Mr Hickey said. However, he doesn’t see the service as a direct competitor as Amazon is a marketplace and WeBringg is offering a service to retailers. Chain stores like Power City and independent outlets, such as flower shop Joy’s Flowers and Martin’s Off Licence, as well as online shop Gifts.ie are already on board.
How retailers choose to offer the service is up to them, Mr Hickey says. Some are offering it as an option at checkout, while others are advertising it on their website as a unique selling point. It charges a flat rate of €8.59 per delivery within 10km and €1.35 per kilometre thereafter.
WeBringg takes a commission from the charge, with the lion’s share going to the driver. This is a big incentive to get drivers onboard the Uber-style platform, he says.
Drivers are required to pass background checks and have complete flexibility around when and how they work. “We’ve everyone from retirees, students, stay-at-home parents who are doing it after the school run. What that gives us is a guaranteed fleet because there’s always someone available to do the job.”
As well as signing up drivers, WeBringg is helping to educate retailers about how having a same-day delivery option can differentiate their brand from its competitors. He said that same-day delivery is not replacing next day or two or three-day service.
“It’s actually increasing orders. It’s a different need. If that online store can’t send it to me for four days, but this one can send it in 90 minutes well I know where I’m going to buy it,” he says.
He said WeBringg differs from a traditional courier service in a number of ways. The platform can integrate with any e-commerce platform or app seamlessly pulling data, such as customer address, goods, price, pick-up location and order number.
Drivers are crowdsourced making the platform easily scalable, and the platform is transparent; customers get live tracking and direct communication with the drivers, with point-to-point delivery.
The company launched in 2016 and received funding from its Local Enterprise Office in Fingal which helped increase its team from four to 27. The startup is competing in the National Finals of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in April, and they’re also in the running for the National Enterprise Awards.
WeBringg which has just launched in Auckland, New Zealand, operates in eight cities in Ireland, UK, Australia. Mr Hickey says the company aims to increase that number in 2018 up to 35.
Deliveries have grown from being in the hundreds at the end of 2016 to the hundreds of thousands in the last quarter of 2017, Mr Hickey said.
While WeBringg is currently an urban-centric service, if retailers were to open up local distribution hubs, its technology would allow it to be introduced in smaller towns and rural areas.