“Delivering parcels in the trunk of a car is new concept,” said Cardrops co-founder Nick De Mey in what may be one of the finest examples of understatement in recent history. His startup sounds simple: you order something and it’s left in the boot of your car. However, when you consider the ramifications – that your car can tell people where it is, that you’re going to be getting shoes or a blender hidden in your car at some point, and that this is actually a serious start-up – and you start to wonder if Nick De May isn’t crazy… like a fox.
“We focus on convenience for the e-customer,” said De May. “The number one reason to shop online is the time savings. The moment you have to drive around to postal office, lockers, or pick-up point you have lost this time. By delivering parcels directly in the trunk people will not have to think about deliveries anymore.”
The service is primarily Europe-only at this point with field tests happening in Belgium and Germany. “In this pilot we’re focusing on on goods from certain brands that will be delivered to their own employees, in their own parking lots. In this context we have fewer trust, privacy, and security issues so we can focus on development the technology.”
The project is fairly ingenious. Using a dongle that attaches to your car’s diagnostic port, the Cardrops can locate your vehicle and drive over to it. With a press of a button they can pop open your truck, move the running shoes, tennis racket, torn dress, and chloroform-stained rags out of the way, and drop your package in the boot. Then you get notified that your goods are in place. In less e-commerce-friendly countries this could mean the difference between schlepping into a main (downtown) distribution hub and picking up your goodies and having said hub walk down the street to your Fiat Punto and dumping them in your truck.
De May founded the company with his partner Philippe De Ridder. They’ve worked with Volkswagen and Ebay and saw a way to mix the two with Cardrops. They also run and “innovation agency” called Board of Innovation.
While many of us would say “Why they heck don’t you just drop the package at the person’s apartment, you fool,” De May has an answer:
“By tracking the behavior of people and their car we can predict upfront what moment will fit best to deliver and we don’t need to rely on the e-customer to be available to complete the process. You have less re-deliveries.”
The more you think about this, the more it makes sense. If you live, say, in the suburbs of a major city and commute into town you may find it far superior to get your stuff dropped in your car than at the front gate of your unguarded home. This also allows deliveries to be made during business hours and ensures that you won’t have to sit around your cottage waiting for the DHL man to rumble down the street.
Sadly, I doubt this has legs in the U.S., but if De May and De Ridder can convince de Belgians and Germans to sign in, de future for Cardrops certainly could look bright.