Olympic gymnast turned entrepreneur Jackson Payne is pictured in Edmonton, on Wednesday October 21, 2020. Payne has started a crowdsourced delivery company called Deeleeo in Edmonton. He was inspired to start the company after selling plenty of stuff on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace but finding people didnt want to drive to get it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Olympic gymnast turned entrepreneur Jackson Payne is pictured in Edmonton, on Wednesday October 21, 2020. Payne has started a crowdsourced delivery company called Deeleeo in Edmonton. He was inspired to start the company after selling plenty of stuff on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace but finding people didnt want to drive to get it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

What’s the Deeleeo? Pandemic spurs resurgence in crowdsourced delivery apps

Even Walmart considered using customers to drop off U.S. orders, but abandoned the idea.

Olympic gymnast Jackson Payne has been a Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace aficionado for years, but shortly after negotiating a price on whatever he was selling on the platforms, he always encountered a conundrum: getting the item to its new owner.

“It would be a 45-minute to an hour’s drive … and they wouldn’t want to come pick it up and I wouldn’t want to go deliver it,” Payne said.

So when he retired from his athletic career at the end of August, he decided it was time to do something about it.

That something is Deeleeo, an Edmonton-based app that aims to bring convenience and affordability to the courier industry by letting anyone sign up to transport goods.

Deeleeo, which recently had its soft launch, has been used by locals to speedily drop off presents or loan out items to friends and family and by small businesses to get purchases to buyers.

Experts say it’s an opportune time for peer-to-peer or crowdsourced delivery services specializing in non-perishable goods because many Canadians are staying home and such apps allow consumers to send items without a requiring a mask or a trip outdoors.

It’s a reversal from a few years ago when similar services were calling it quits, citing low demand and more interest in food delivery.

The most high profile courier service to close was Uber Technologies Inc.’s Rush, which operated in San Francisco, New York and Chicago between 2014 to 2018. The company chalked up the closure as a “bold bet” that didn’t work out and refocused on UberEats.

Courier DHL and a group of German design students explored a similar service called Bring Buddy, but it was cancelled seven years ago and the company hasn’t used crowdsourcing since.

Even Walmart considered using customers to drop off U.S. orders, but abandoned the idea.

Others thought crowdsourced deliveries still had potential, but zeroed in on the commercial markets by undercutting postal services and big-name shipping companies with cheaper prices and lower wait times.

Payne insists there is a market for his service because it can get deliveries where they need to go quicker or more cheaply than traditional options.

Small packages going a short distance can be delivered for as low as $9, while bigger items needing to travel hundreds of kilometres can cost $70, he said.

Couriers earn between 75 and 80 per cent of the delivery fee and make premiums for the more items they deliver.

“I have family members that don’t have jobs right now and I see the struggle, so if Deeleeo can provide a temporary, part-time or even full-time solution to raising the funds they need to support their family, I’m happy to see that,” Payne said.

Just as Payne was readying to launch Deeleeo, Uber was reconsidering crowdsourced deliveries again.

Despite its Rush troubles, it launched Uber Connect, a Deeleeo competitor, at the end of May in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Connect likely won’t be the last new crowdsourced delivery option.

A 2016 McKinsey study valued the global parcel delivery market at more than $108 billion and said it’s growing so fast that shipping volumes could double by 2026.

While crowd-based shipping models can be attractive because of their affordability, the report warned that such services will likely only play a minor role in the industry because they can be fraught with legal issues and it can be difficult to source drivers during peak periods if they sign up with multiple companies.

McKinsey, however, suggested the services could excel at managing “ultra peak demand” like the December holiday rush that already prompted Canada Post to plead with consumers to get their parcels shipped early.

Holiday seasons like Valentine’s Day and Christmas have been a boon for years, but the pandemic is producing a surge too, said Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck, a Toronto taxi service that has offered deliveries through its cabs for as long as she can remember.

“We’re finding, in the interest of not wanting to go out or be in direct contact with family members, people will send some cookies they’ve made or maybe it’s a blanket or maybe you know it’s some tool they’re going to lend,” Hubbard said.

Beck follows the city-mandated $10 parcel minimum and charges that rate for the first three kilometres and $2.50 for every additional kilometre.

There are no hard rules around what it will ship. Most items, including food or forgotten house or car keys, are fine, but Hubbard has had to veto some requests.

“We’ve been asked to transport a snake. That was a hard no,” she said.

“Some people have asked to send babies alone.”

While such services are fulfilling an important need during the health crisis, Wendy Cukier, a research lead at both the Future Skills Centre and Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, worries about their affects on the workforce.

Uber and Deeleeo — much like food delivery services — rely on independent contractors and were developed to offer convenience to consumers and a money generator for people out of work or looking to pad their incomes.

The problem with services relying on independent contracting is they often don’t offer stable wages, employment benefits or health insurance, said Cukier.

She wishes services and regulators thought more about how big an impact universal basic income and portable benefits, which move with people as they change jobs or employers, can have on workers and the economy.

“Make no mistake about it … some employers are constructing new arrangements so that they don’t have to invest in long-term employees,” she said.

“We have to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFood

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Colwood resident, Geoffrey Irwin, has been missing since Sep. 27. His vehicle was found in Vancouver on Nov. 25. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Police search for former Caps player last seen in September

Geoff Irwin’s vehicle was found in Vancouver Nov. 25

Cowichan Tribes’ artist Darrell Thorne (left) and Phil Kent, chairman of the Island Corridor Foundation, hold Thorne’s first-place winning design in the ICF’s First Nations artist competition. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes’ Darrell Thorne wins ICF art competition

Artists designed perspectives on passenger trains of the future

Shopping locally for the holidays has never been so important. (Submitted)
Editorial: Buying local for holidays never so important

It’s an important thing to consider when you go to do both your in person and online shopping

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples encourages groups and organizations in the city to take advantage of Duncan’s DOVID-19 grants program. (File photo)
Still lots of money left in Duncan’s COVID-19 grant program

Council has approved just three applications so far

Ultra runner Jerry Hughes circles the track at the Cowichan Sportsplex as he nears the end of his six-day Canadian record attempt and fundraiser in November. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Six days on the Cowichan Sportsplex track for ultramarathoner

Record bid misses, but fundraiser a success

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Most Read