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

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Image curtesy Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin addresses unpaid oil and gas taxes

The County of Wetaskiwin is addressing unpaid oil and gas taxes and… Continue reading

Caitlin Kraft, the sister of Jeffery Kraft, stands third from the left, holding a sign calling for the maximum sentence for Campbell, who is charged with manslaughter. (Photo by Paul Cowley)
UPDATED: Judge again rejects submission of 7-year sentence for slaying of Kraft

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read