Doing some online shopping but don’t want the package shipped to your house? Maybe you won’t be home, or worry about packages left on your doorstep. Or maybe the package is a gift for someone in your household? Here’s a cool idea: pick up your online orders at a local store instead. That’s the premise of the young startup called Kinek, which has partnered with a number of brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S. and Canada to serve as “KinekPoints” – secure locations where you can pick up your deliveries.
Now, the company is releasing its first iPhone application, allowing you to find nearby KinekPoints, check their hours, get directions, track packages and receive push notifications when the package has arrived.
For consumers, there’s no monthly or sign-up fee to use Kinek, but there’s sometimes a small per-package fee applied by the individual KinekPoint location. The high range for the fee isn’t too bad – usually around $5 for a regular-sized package. Some retailers don’t charge a fee at all, though, because they benefit from the foot traffic that comes from being a KinekPoint. However, all retailers have to pay to be a KinekPoint partner on a per-parcel basis.
Currently, Kinek has partnered with brick-and-mortar retailers including Medfast, Storage-mart, Pharmasave, and DoItBest (the latter two in select locations only, not the entire chain). It has also partnered with online retailers Sierra Trading Post and Monoprice to provide online shoppers with an alternative shipping address when the company doesn’t ship to their home.
The company now has over a thousand locations across 42 U.S. states and nearly all Canadian provinces. KinekPoints are most popular in major metro areas like San Francisco (73), Los Angeles (59), Chicago (32), San Diego (30), Kansas City (28), Atlanta (27), Miami (27), Toronto (24), Dallas (23), Washington D.C. (23), New York (22), Philadelphia (14), Seattle (13), Orlando (12) and Montreal (10). But it has really taken off in rural areas along the U.S./Canadian border, as it offers Canadians a way to avoid international shipping and handling fees. They just have the package sent to their favorite KinekPoint address, then drive across the border to pick it up.
The iPhone app serves as a great complement to this handy service, especially because it provides mobile access to package tracking and push notifications. You can choose to have messages sent to you via SMS and email, too, if you prefer.
Kinek launched in December 2009, and was started by CEO Dr. Kerry McLellan, Ph.D., who is also CEO of Applepeak Inc. and owner of Clean Earth Ltd. He previously was COO of 724 solutions from 1998-2000. Kinek is personally funded by McLellan, but is in talks with investors at this time.
The idea for the startup clearly has merit – after all, Amazon is doing the same thing. The Internet retailer has been testing a “delivery locker” system at select 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. in recent months where the convenience store serves as sort of a 24/7 post office for Amazon order pick-ups.
You can grab the new Kinek for iPhone here.