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Warehouse Management Blog

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Innovative delivery: Amazon, Uber, and Doddle

Carriers & Shipping

WRITTEN BY Jonathan Bellwood /

15 October 2015

What do we want? Innovative delivery!

When do we want it? Now!

In today's fast-paced world, consumers are demanding more when it comes to delivery. They want innovation and convenience - and they want it yesterday. So when the masses cry out for something better, it's no surprise to see that Amazon is one of the forerunners in providing a solution. Not to be outdone, however, Uber and Doddle have also taken steps to quell the crowds by introducing their own new initiatives.


But first, the long-pondered-over Amazon Flex. After GeekWire's visit to the Amazon facility in Kirkland back in August, we thought that Amazon Flex might be a form of pick up service, not too unlike your trips to Argos. At the Kirkland facility, there were signposts with instructions telling customers to take a ticket, wait for their number to show on the screen, and the proceed to collect their package.

Cutting out the actual delivery sure would be the smartest way to reduce logistics costs, but it's likely only going to be ideal and replicable by other eCommerce companies if they have warehouse that are easily accessible by the public. As such, the use of smaller urban warehouses is probably going to be the best solution should others wish to try their hand at customer pick ups.

[Related: Replicating Amazon's fulfilment]

Recent updates have revealed that Amazon Flex may not be this at all, however. It is, in fact, an 'Uber for package deliveries' service currently only available in Seattle. As the description suggests, Amazon are using an Uber-esque operation whereby freelance drivers can pick up and deliver Prime Now packages. Drivers must have their own car and Android phone, but they will be paid between£$18-25 per hour and can choose their own shift times between 2 and 12 hours.

While we wait for updates on how Amazon Flex is received, it can't be ignored that Amazon have also been pushing ahead quite strongly with their Prime Now service which has been live in London since the end of June this year. For those not in the know, Prime Now is an innovative delivery option available to Amazon Prime subscribers who can get their orders delivered in just 1 hour.

How can other eCommerce companies offer 1-hour delivery?

Well, it won't be easy, that's for sure, but it's far from impossible. The key requirement is having a decent warehouse management system because there is just no room for human error or manual processes with deadlines this close. Ideally, you will want to have plenty of data that can tell you exactly how long it takes to pick, pack, and despatch every item in the warehouse. With this information, you can start to understand your efficiencies and plan towards streamlining your processes to the point where 1-hour delivery is more than just a pipe-dream.


When we talk about innovative delivery we can't overlook Uber's retail delivery service, UberRUSH. Now, back in April this year we did a post on Uber as a delivery service and, what would you know, it's actually happened! That's right, Uber has stepped up its game and will now deliver your retail packages as well as any human being with the Uber app.

Capitalising on the fleet of drivers motoring around all the major cities is - let's face it - a pretty darn clever idea. One of the key issues which have been flagged up regarding this service is that it requires retail businesses to have an accurate record of its available stock. How does one get such accurate stock figures? Well, warehouse management software sure does come in handy, particularly if you're running your eCommerce and retail operations from the same warehouse.

Doddle and its runners

This has been a favourite of mine since I read about it a couple of month's ago - Doddle's Runner Service. Need a parcel delivered by tomorrow but don't have time to get to the Post Office? Doddle's Runners to the rescue!

Armed with trainers, an Oyster Card, and their wits, these specially trained runners will collect your parcel from wherever you are in the EC1-EC4 areas of London and drop it off for tracked delivery at your convenience. 

Is it a model that is scalable for eCommerce? Well, with those smaller urban warehouses we mentioned it may be, but if you're sticking with your big distribution centre in the middle of nowhere then probably not. It's still a fantastically innovative idea though.

Heard tell of any other innovative delivery methods? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to talk to someone with know-how about your WMS needs? Arrange a call with one of our specialists today.

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