Online shopping has come along in leaps and bounds since 1994 when the first e-commerce transaction actually occurred — but as dotcom bombs UrbanFetch and Kozmo proved, delivery can be the most painful point in the ecommerce chain. Enter Shutl, which today launches an on-demand delivery platform that aggregates transportation carriers. Think of it as cloud computing for the logistics industry, focusing primarily on local same-day courier firms.
Watch Shutl’s pitch at 00:33:30
Launching in London first, the service is targeted at multi-channel retailers and their customers, promising delivery within 90 minutes of purchase in urban areas — and all this at a lower cost to retailers than their standard delivery charge. The company is keeping quiet on delivery time or cost if you happen to live in the ‘burbs or the boondocks.
The Shutl platform will initially plug into retailers’ websites, enabling the retailer to offer its customers immediate home delivery of goods, delivered directly from their local stores. All the couriers have GPS units and this data is aggregated so customers can watch their delivery en route in real-time on a map.
Shutl uses a proprietary algorithm that considers past performance and consumer feedback to select the appropriate carrier for each delivery, down even to the type of vehicles the courier has available. Independent courier companies will be able upload pricing to the portal to automatically bid on deliveries from Shutl’s retail partners.
This pricing can be flexed in real-time enabling carriers to capitalise on short-term changes in capacity across their fleet. The end result, they say, is that better performing carriers will be able to justify higher prices and attract more work than their poorer performing competitors.
The platform and distribution network can be applied to a number of additional markets. The company announced £0.5m in European Angel investment in October.
The model blends the old with the new. It’s not that long ago that local grocery stores delivered your purchases at a time that suited you; and even more recently that large logistics enterprises started the trend of cutting costs and boosting efficiency by pooling resources and capacity across their fleets. It also throws a lifeline to courier companies operating within a declining market as it currently stands.
Shutl is founded by Tom Allason, who is a founder and former CEO of eCourier.co.uk, an online same-day courier service which allows clients to place delivery orders online with little or no advance notice.