GET WORK DIRECT FROM CUSTOMER via a smartfone app
  • and get paid up to 80%(top performing couriers) of the delivery charge.

    INTERESTED ?
  • Who are you? What are the rates. A pound? Leaving me with 80p. What is a top performing courier? What is SMA anyway? Google came up with
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=sma&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a
  • Yes I'm INTERESTED - how much do the couriers get ripped off for when buying this scam?
  • paulw. stop stalking the forum and explain exactly how this would work and what the costs and benefits are. the infrastructure exists and lots of us already own the equipment. sell it to me in technical as well as sales speak, actually, forget the sales speak because it will just inspire revulsion and mistrust. fwiw i have studied programming and telecoms systems and have a reasonable grasp of how such a system could be implemented so don't be afraid to use long words.
  • Yeah, come on Paul, you've got us all interested now!
  • yeahhhhhh paul
  • Oh, and who are the customers?
  • Ok people are interested great, better introduce myself then.

    I'm Paul Williams and I'm a sofware developer and entrepreneur from Dublin.
    I'm planning on building a platform that will basically replace the courier company.
    Here is how it will work:( I'm wide open to your suggestions here)

    The courier will use an android smart phone with our application(app) running on it.
    He will logon and push the big red button that say "I'm available" the app sends a signal to the
    the system/platform(lets call it GCX) with his location(generated from the GPS in the phone).

    The customer accesses the system via a webpage/web application.
    Once the customer login he is presented with an interactive map centered at his location and showing all the couriers that are available(not engaged) and their location on the map.
    He then enters the pickup and drop locations for the delivery.
    If he hovers the cursor over the markers that represent couriers on the map he can see who you are,your price for this delivery and your rating(like in ebay..both courier and customer get rated by each other for each delivery).
    The customer can then offer the delivery to the courier of his choice and the GCX system sends a signal to that courier's GCX phone app offering him the delivery, he can accept or reject the delivery.
    If he accepts by pushing the "ACCEPT" button his status changes to "ENGAGED" on the GCX system and is then only visable to the customer who hired him on the their interactive map only.
    The system then sends a signal to the "ENGAGED" couriers phone app telling it to start sending GPS location info once a minute, the system then updates the customers map(once a minute) with the courier's location so they can watch(if they want) the courier as he travels to the pickup and on to the drop.
    The delivery is signed for using a "signature capture" on the phone and then the courier's status changes to "AVAILABLE" on the GCX sytem and he becomes visable on all customers interactive maps again.

    At the end of the working week the courier can push a button on the GCX phone app thats say's "finished for the week"
    The system will generate an invoice for him detailing all his deliveries for that week and his cut(%), if he is in agreement the GCX system sends his invoice to us and we transfer the cash into the couriers bank account.


    more to follow ->
  • So are we just a courier company with some fancy software...?
    No we are are market place where customers can find couriers and couriers can get hired for deliveries in real time.
    So the customer has access to more couriers( not just the couriers that work for one courier company)
    AND the (now independent) couriers can get access to a whole lot more customers not just the ones that the courier company has signed up.
  • Because this software is internet based we don't need a physical presence in the city we operate in..
    So we can operate this in any city that has a decent size bike messenger community.

    In reply to "PORNOMIKE"

    You decide the "price" as an independent courier using the GCX platform(system).

    Don't know how much this thing will cost to run yet so not sure what the couriers % will be yet... but will be way better than conventional courier companies offer else there is no point to this.
    If we have no couriers on this we have no service to offer the customers
    So you guys are the key.
  • so you expect all couriers to do every job one up? :shocked:
  • Just having one job in the bag is the main problem. Couriers make money when they have multiple jobs in their bag going in the same general direction. Sounds like what you have is to replace a cab company.
  • Please correct me if I'm wrong , "one up" meaning one pickup one delivery as opposed to two(or more) pickups and drops on the same "loop".
    I have a solution to this (I think) tell me if its rubbish (I not a courier so what do I know). but it takes some clever programming and tweeking over time to get it right.
    The quick and nasty solution is : if a courier is"ENGAGED" is physically near a customer who has just entered a delivery(or looks like his route will take him near...that bit is tricky) he will appear for a limited time on the map and so the customer can offer him the second pickup.

    The other thing is some customers may not care(guessing here)who or when delivers their package so they could just put there delivery in a queue which then could be just offered to the courier that is nearest( engaged or not).

    what do ya think ?
  • I think... you are going to change everything.
  • I believe you are the future, and they are the past.

    What can we, the riders, do to speed up the collapse of these rotten, decaying titans?
    That is what I wanna know, Mr Paul Williams.
  • Have City Sprint got wind of this yet?
  • Presumaley there are apps to book us motorbike couriers and the vans, too?

    I say cut off the head of the snake and put the fat controller out of business.
  • For starters, don't ever shout at me. The name is pornomike. The question remains, what are the rates, who are the clients? As you say, you are not a courier company so you are shit out of luck.
    @ carter. Again you show what an idiot you are. Edit because I was in fact the idiot but carter is still the dumbest ever.
  • So it doesn't even exist yet, it's just an idea that you're planning to execute.

    It's not going to work unless you and some business partners are prepared to do some of the work yourself to start with. People aren't just going to sign up to an idea that doesn't exist yet and hasn't been proven to work.
  • pornomike..apologies for shouting...forgot about uppercase being used for that.
  • Bread Pedaler...yes that is correct.

    we are building a prototype at the moment...and yes we have a lot of assumptions to validate yet.
    Not expecting anyone to sign up just yet....just looking for some opinions and feedback from you guys who
    would potentially be our partners. The headline name for this thread was just designed to spark a debate and give me an opportunity to describe the early version of my solution(and see if I'm on the right track).
  • Question: Do you think that the clients/customers of the courier companies you guys currently work for are happy with the service they get ...or are they frustrated and would welcome change ?
  • OK. So what is SMA?
  • Are you going to tell us who the (potential) clients are. Are you even in the UK. Who the fuck are you and again, what is SMA? Non runner if you know what that means.
  • Oh and by the way The big red button comment is so condescending.
  • And as Bread Pedaler said, how much is it going to cost?
  • I dont know if there is any point but anyway ...DICKHEAD
  • pornomike, the thread title has been shortened, because there is a limit on the number of characters that can be displayed, which depends on the width of your screen. It says 'via a smartphone app'.

    I think couriers will be more likely to use the app if it's free. After all, if you're going to be taking a cut of each job, if this thing's successful you will make your money back, so you don't need to charge an initial fee for couriers to use it.

    As for customers... do they really want an eBay type experience? How many of them actually want to spend time checking feedback, seeing who's nearby etc. That's the controller's job, and you're effectively asking customers to do that job. Do they actually have time to do that?

    I agree that couriers would be better off without a middleman taking a cut of their earning, but the reason customers use companies like the one that I work for is because, as middlemen, we do everything for them, and we take the responsibility if things go pear shaped. When they want a job doing, all they have to do is phone us, and it's us who does the worrying about whether a courier is reliable or not, so that they don't have to. And we know more couriers than they will ever be able to find, so what could potentially take them 20 phone calls to find one courier who's actually available to do a job, we have an up to the minute list of couriers who we know are available at any one time, so we can get a job covered strtaight away with just one phone call. How many customers are going to want to make these decisions and efforts every time they book a job, when they can just pay someone like us to do it for them?
  • Plus, even van work is lacking lately. Even people with good connections are having days when they do absolutely no work whatsoever. Customers are going out of business, or relocating, or shrinking, or sending stuff by Royal Mail. Up here there is about 1 bike job per 100 van jobs. If the work simply isn't there, can a smartphone app really help cycle couriers get more work?

    I am actually interested in your idea because I and no doubt countless other people who have worked as cycle couriers and laid their hands upon a smartphone have had the same idea; develop an app that can be used to pick up work in some way or other. Something similar to this has actually happened already on Courier Exchange - they were on about doing a PDA for CX users that worked seamlessly with the CX system, enabling couriers to pick up hotshots and backloads with ease. The difference is that with CX, it's not customers but courier companies that put the jobs on the system. You're effectively proposing a system like CX but for bicycles and with customers using it directly.

    There are couriers who get nearly all their work off CX, there are courier companies who get all their couriers off CX, and there are couriers and companies who use it to supplement what they've already got. Can a smartphone app work as the basis of a courier's income or could it only work as a supplement? Given that most couriers are tracked by the companies they work for, their controllers would easily be able to tell if they were doing work for other companies. Couriers wouldn't get away with doing that, they'd have to quit and commit to using your app. Unless your app becomes REALLY successful and is guaranteed to provide loads of work, who is going to want to quit their job as an employed subcontractor?
  • Interesting but not entirely new : see http://www.tiramizoo.com/start?locale=en and http://www.zipments.com/

    Not sure how popular these systems are and to the dropout rate of couriers & clients?

    Ben
  • dunno, sounds like you want to be a courier company by taking a cut yourself. i am a one man business, i have my own clients and work along other couriers who do the same and as we are all mates we share the jobs between us without taking a cut. these days with smart phones there is the potential for fancy yet unnecesary apps, i.e i still use an a to z not google maps. a phone call is still very much the best form of contact for the customer/courier for us its a case of asking where you at? are you busy? can you tie this in? etc, very easy.
    for the customers point of view they just wanna book the job quickly and let the company deal with whoever does it speak to any shity sprint customer and they will complain about the laborious task of booking a job online.

    also as an entrepreneur you probably wanna stay clear of the courier trade :)

    here's an idea for an app, a fixed gear ratio calculator, i type in 52 x 13 and it tells me how large my cock is, wooo!
  • @PaulW

    If i were you i would learn to produce an endless stream of bunting from my mouth while some upbeat music plays in the background. then i would be INTERESTED.
  • Don't mind Capt. Mysterious he dosn't like capitalism
  • You need to figure out how to do double-ups, and also some other way of locating couriers that doesn't rely on smart-phone GPS tracking - phone batteries don't last very long with GPS enabled.
  • ^^very good point about battery life Bill...

    IMO done properly this could change the game as much as email did* but that would require more knowledge of how the courier business runs than Paul is in possession of (sorry but the one up thing marks you as someone "on the outside"). the self pricing idea i think is a bad one, the industry is fucking itself the arse with price wars why build in a mechanism to allow it to continue when you could end the fucking madness and give the riders a fair deal?

    anyone know any friendly exengers in the field of programming? i know at least one... LCEF android app for open call jobs while you're still with a current company could be workable?
  • Re GPS.., it is no longer my passion but I imagine that an app could be written that turns on GPS every few minutes and then "polls" the user's position before turning GPS off again before sending the info to a central server.

    Something similar is also possible with GSM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM_localization) by identifying the mast that you are logged on to.

    It's do-able. An insider will often tell you though that the business is mainly about relationships, rather than accessing random unknowns in order to shave off a few pence here and there. It has to be massively easy for the client to book jobs and follow up problems or they won't be interested.

    Lastly, try to remember Paul that things like this should often only be genuinely tried during times of economic buoyancy. In a pessimistic economic climate you stand little chance of attracting real volume and your competitors will do everything they can to fuck you up.

    If however you have recently been laid-off and have no alternative but to try to augment your skillset then I wish you the very best of luck.
  • Bill, sleepy and captain,

    Absolutely right about the battery life.....I've been working on that and captain you have it exactly right..
    http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/location/obtaining-user-location.html (diagram down the page)
    The gps is only switched on for a very short interval and the location is calculated also using cell tower triangulation and wifi hotspots etc.
  • Surely this needs all out commitment (to start with maybe not), def a controller and def an common app for smartphone. Contacts are key as Mr Mysterious rightly says (but I believe we prob have a few?) Could just use the GPS turned on smartphone for job allocation and positional fixes... you can buy a phone for £2.99 for comunication (in the begining)

    As Sleepy says, self pricing is a non starter. No one wants multiple choice pricing and delivery times. Has to be predictable and regular. Needs some sort of co-op/company with some sort of regulation... And we do have the ethical edge compared to existing companies (if that angle were to be pursued)

    This aint about an app, its about a revolution...
  • (could be about a revolution)
  • @Bread Pedaler yes the app will be free, most of the action is happening on the server side, the app is just a way to sent and receive messages in a private and controlled way, and for the server(GCX platform) to access the location/GPS services on the phone. On its own its completely useless

    I think there will always be a market for a courier service that provides a personal service like @bingo_wings describes and based on relationships and such a business does not need this technology.... but citysprint have other plans for the courier industry.

    http://www.citysprint.co.uk/about-us/acquisitions/

    and the war chest to pull this off £9,829,979
    http://www.citysprint.co.uk/resources/doc/general/CitySprint_Financial_2010.pdf

    Also checkout http://www.citysprint.co.uk/technology/citybridge/
    "avoiding the re-entering of information and other unnecessary communication by phone or email"

    "The technology also allows our partners to send booking requests to CityTrak and receive our real time status updates in return, which they can then pass on to their customers."

    Be acquired or become or partners....thats the future they have planned.

    "
    The EBITDA for the year was £7.3m, an increase of 40.55 % on 2009, and this was achieved thanks to a
    concerted approach by the Board to improve its gross margins, and achieve cost savings which were
    available thanks to the investment in Information Technology
    "
    Not bad for recessionary times.
  • Even with the switch on / switch off thing, I promise you the battery gets chewed.
  • Hi Bill
    The battery issue is getting better all the time, I have a year old HTC desire HD..,when I got it first I was lucky if I made it to lunch time without a recharge. A firmware upgrade and it now runs for 1+1/2 on a charge wifi on and using as a phone.
    I've wandered around foreign cities(wifi off) and just using google maps and the gps all day without a dead battery.
    Depends on how well the phone software manages the heavy power users like GPS.

    As a backup there is always http://amzn.to/s45dg6 duracell make these as well

    or http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/02/nokias-15-bicycle-cellphone-charger-now-30-in-europe/ with the usb adapter.

    I know, I know....not very cool looking ....just saying ....the battery issue need not be a show stopper.

    Really appreciate the comments
  • Hmmm, why would I want to put someone like Bill out of a job?

    Couriers are booked on account, accounts are paid monthly...so would this work for the larger firms or is it just an app based on the small occaisonal use accounts.

    I can book a cab like this, I call the cab on my app, (13 CABS), input collection details, passenger type and number, ready to go or collection time. This works well. The cab then collects the job and a gps map shows up with the cab heading to me, with distance and ETA.

    Just change the format to a parcel and courier and there you have it, the same app you are talking about, just payment will be different as with the cab you pay at the final destination.
    Payment will have to have a receipt, so does this means more workers going legit as companys may prefer to transfer payment electronically.

    13CABS on the Iphone, look it up.

    If enough companies had the system then the couriers cruising around woyld be able to see these jobs and can pick them up as they go. Multiple collections, no one up, a 20 - 30 minute delivery time would allow this.
  • A concern I would have is as individual riders set their rates, is there a possibilty that long term, experienced couriers can be quickly forced out of the market by newcomers with maybe lower personal overheads fulfilling jobs for paperboy rates...or a general undercutting culture leading to devaluation of the courier service in general....I know this happens with courier companies, but would be sad to see individuals doing this...

    As for the multiple job issue, a priority scale of rates might solve this, low priority (to be delivered within 90 mins? expect to see your courier remain available for up to 1 hour before moving), standard (to be delivered within 60 mins, expect to see your courier remain available for up to 30 minutes before moving) or Direct.....I think the direct service would be well received by clients and they would be happy to pay high rates to see their urgent package moving across London "live on screen" rather than having to deal with or be palmed off by a courier company employee...

    How would you deal with communication between client and courier? it's not unusual for a client to re-call a job, or change delivery address after pickup, if you automatically give the client the couriers mobile number they could in future book that courier direct, circumnavigating your system...so some kind of live messaging or call forwarding might be necessary.

    Rarely couriers break down, most can fix mechanicals in less than 10 minutes but occasionally a "recovery" is required, easy for a courier company with many bikes on their fleet and the client need not know....how could this system deal with this? a "request recovery" button sending out an SOS to nearby couriers travelling in a similar direction wuth some sort of shared commission on the jobs to be recovered?

    The client booking booking experience would have to be simple and quick to compete with what can be a 15 second phone call for regular, large, repeat clients to courier companies....


    What would be the testing procedure for this app, is there a backup system if it fails? ...or what happens if it fails, would there be compensation for client and courier in this case?

    Re: batteries, spares are cheap, change your battery half way through the day?
  • Never seen Courier Exchange before, I remember talking to Bill (or Al) about soemthing like this back when the internet was invented...does it work?
  • And sorry to disrupt your free market research Paul....

    but as your idea is now in the public domain, couldn't something similar to this be developed and implemented by an exisiting network of couriers forming a cooperative and setting fair yet competititve rates amongst themselves.....just dreaming.
  • @ Paul, you talk about not needing to be in the same city, does this mean that you are still in Dublin? If so have you tried talking to any Dublin messengers about this?

    As a small city with a relatively small courier count it could be a good testing ground before hitting the big bad city of Lahndahn.

    As it stands I believe work here is so slow at the minute that people could keep their existing jobs and still bang out some extra work...
  • Also, someone just posted this on Facebook, looks like similar technology is out there and being used already, unless this is you Paul?

    http://www.appbrain.com/app/tiramizoo-courier-app/com.sengaro.tiramizoo.courier
  • Interested. Problem is not so much the implementation (that's easy part), but the model could do with fine tuning.

    Another issue springs to mind is, would clients be willing to hire "any" service without some sort of insurance or guarantee backing that their delivery will get POD, not stolen/lost/late.

    Courier knowledge is great resource and anything to cut out the useless fatcat in between.

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