Living in Brooklyn, NY (the place where package deliveries go to die), I know better than anyone the struggle of missing a package, tracking it down, and then traveling however long it takes to recover said package. It’s so much of a pain, in fact, that I often give up the second I see that “Sorry we missed you” sticker.
But a company fresh out of Y Combinator‘s Summer 2012 class is ready to disrupt this mayhem with a clever little box, a BufferBox. It’s a bit like Amazon Locker, where you have all your Amazon packages shipped to a relatively convenient location instead of missing them. However, BufferBox works with all of your packages (UPS, FedEx, USPS, and Amazon).
Here’s how it works:
After signing up with BufferBox, you’re given a specific address — you will use this address every time you plan on receiving a package. Once the delivery arrives, BufferBox will send you an email with a unique PIN, with which you can open up your BufferBox and walk off, package in hand.
BufferBox then takes a fee for every parcel delivered through their system. “Integrated retailers” will offer a BufferBox distribution channel direct from their own ecommerce sites, and at that point the rate to the retailer comes down to shipping volume. The customer pays nothing. On the other hand, users buying through non-integrated retailers can always sign up for a BufferBox of their own, and pay $3 per parcel.
According to founder Mike McCauley, Amazon’s Locker program poses the greatest threat competitively, but he actually sees it as an advantage.
“They opened up a whole new market for us because they have 30 percent of the commerce volume,” McCauley said. “The other scattered 70 percent don’t have the order volume to justify building a network of kiosks.”
“In that way, we’re kind of like an open platform.”
The roll-out has already begun, starting with Union Station in Toronto, Canada. (The BufferBox guys are primarily out of the University of Waterloo.)
The team has plans to expand into 100 new locations, including convenience stores, grocery stores, and transit stations within Toronto, which should expand their potential user base to approximately 7 million consumers. Perfect practice for a roll-out in the Big Apple.
BufferBox has also signed an agreement with Walmart ecommerce to give consumers the option of having packages delivered to a BufferBox instead of their doorstep.