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

Cascade Falls Regional Park is one of several Fraser Valley parks that saw record usage during the summer of 2020. (File photo)
Residents flock to Fraser Valley parks amid pandemic

Some trails saw usage double during summer months of 2020

A horse on Yale Road West in Chilliwack peeks out from its shelter at the rainy weather on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Several days of rain in forecast for Fraser Valley after single day of sunshine

According to Environment Canada, rain and showers are expected today until Wednesday

At the current rate of new infections, one in 53 Lower Mainland residents will catch the virus over the weeks to come. (Chart: Tyler Olsen)
GRAPHIC: One in 25 Lower Mainland residents may contract COVID-19 by February if virus continues spread

Moderate increase cases would leave one in 20 Lower Mainland residents with virus by February

Chilliwack musician Mauvey won the Dakota Leslie Fan Vote – and $2,500 – at this year’s Fraser Valley Music Awards. The virtual event was held Thursday night (Nov. 19).
Winners of Fraser Valley Music Awards announced in 16 categories

Annual awards honour artists in pop, hip hop, jazz and more

web
Mission RCMP searching for missing man

Asking the public for assistance to locate Rocky Tolfree

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Fraser the Sandhill Crane getting some care for his broken leg. (Special to The News)
Sandhill crane hit by golf ball released back into the wild in Pitt Meadows

The ‘threatened’ bird was captured and operated on after his leg was fractured by an errant ball

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Reverend Patrick John (PJ) O’Maoil Mheana, ordained as Father Luke, has been named the new rector for the Church of the Holy Trinity in White Rock. (Contributed photo)
From chaos to love, White Rock’s newest priest to spread message of hope

Rev. Patrick John O’Maoil Mheana to start work at Church of the Holy Trinity Nov. 30

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

Most Read