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By Wolfgang Lehmacher and Alan McKinnon:

"Crowd-shipping offers a means of better exploiting our under-utilized cars through picking up and dropping off parcels along the routes people are taking anyway. How does the model work? People offering to carry parcels (which we will call ‘couriers’) and those wishing to use the service download the app and register with the website, for example with a Facebook link. The user enters details of the parcel, its collection and delivery points and, in some cases, the amount they are prepared to pay for delivery. Potential couriers then bid for the work, competing on delivery time and cost. The user decides which bid to accept. The online platform gives the successful courier a parcel number, address details and access to a messaging service for communication with the user. Once the parcel is delivered, the recipient confirms receipt through the platform and the courier’s account is credited with the agreed fee.

Companies providing online platforms for crowd-shipping differ in their market focus, although the described way of operating is similar. Some platforms cater more for professional couriers: for example, it is estimated that, ‘at Zipments 95% of couriers are professional delivery folks with more than four years of experience’. Others like Rideshare, MyWay and Shippies rely on ordinary people. Deliv tends to specialize in deliveries from shopping malls of products that were either bought there or purchased online on a ‘click and collect’ basis." (