Partnering With Local, On-Demand Same-Day Delivery Providers

Date: June 12, 2018


In the last few years we have seen a wave of innovative new startup, “pop-up” and on-demand companies enter the logistics space. Given the enormous profit and growth potential offered by our industry, this should come as no surprise.

Some of these new arrivals, like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), could eventually become a direct threat to 3PL business. Some are hybrids, like the on-demand warehousing space service Flexe. Known as the “Air BNB” of warehousing, the company helps their customers find available space in 3PL facilities with extra capacity. The firm could provide an ideal solution for those 3PLs looking to monetize every last inch of their warehouse1.

As the saying goes, “knowing is half the battle.” So, we have outlined why creating mutually beneficial relationships with same-day delivery partners is a key decision 3PLs need to consider today - and not tomorrow - so you can be the power-player of choice for your customers.

The Golden Opportunity with On-Demand, Same-Day Delivery Partners

Businesswoman boss in conference room sitting with back in chair

One of the greatest opportunities for 3PLs is the arrival of one of the many new on-demand, same-day delivery services that have launched in cities around the U.S. These services clearly enhance a 3PL’s ability to deliver the superior customer experience today’s consumers now demand.

Such web-based, fast-turnaround delivery companies are not entirely new.  Several, in fact, actually operated in the late 1990s during the dot-com boom. Included among these were such well-known firms as Kozmo, Webvan, and Sameday.com.  Unfortunately, after the dot-com crash of 2001, most of these companies went by the wayside2.

One of the reasons for their decline was that perhaps they had arrived too soon. The eCommerce industry was still in its infancy, and the technology required to make these services profitable hadn’t been perfected yet.

But over the last few years, this has changed. eCommerce sales have skyrocketed and the technological and hardware breakthroughs needed to support same-day delivery are now widespread and seamless. These include everything from the availability of high-speed wireless internet connectivity, to the proliferation of GPS technology to the near-ubiquitous use of smartphones, mobile apps and digital payment systems.

Together, these factors have combined to create the framework for the modern “on-demand” economy that dominates our world today.

The Advantages of Adding an On-Demand, Same-Day Delivery Partner

Of course, of all the aspects involved in making the on-demand economy work, perhaps the most important - and difficult to get right – is “last-mile” delivery. The new delivery firms that have appeared on the scene are all vying to fill that void. Delivery partners are ideal partners for 3PLs who are looking to differentiate themselves by providing3:

  • The ability for eCommerce consumers to select from multiple delivery options at the time of their purchase
  • The ability for these consumers to change their preferred pick-up or delivery location – even while their purchased item is still in transit
  • The ability for consumers to track their order status in real-time, 24/7
  • The delight, satisfaction and sense of control these consumers will experience when they receive their latest purchase on the same day

On-Demand, Same-Day Delivery Providers in Operation Today

Delivery man supplying pack and asking for a signature, partnering with same day delivery providers

On-demand, same-day delivery providers exist in almost every major metropolitan area in the U.S.  These include local courier and delivery services, many of whom have been around for decades. But they also include some larger, eCommerce-focused firms who have just sprung up in the past few years.

These include such firms as Postmates, Deliv.co, and, until recently UberRush (the parent company recently announced plans to discontinue the service at the end of June, 2018)4.  All of these companies were specifically created to deliver items that were purchased online. And new players continue emerge into the marketplace, like PigeonShip, who list a range of benefits for many 3PLs.

The Advantages of On-Demand, Same-Day Delivery Providers Over FedEx or UPS

Built from the ground up for the needs of the “on-demand” economy, these new entrants are designed to deliver, as Postmates puts it, “Anything, anywhere, anytime.”5  And while such larger players like FedEx, UPS and USPS do offer some limited same-day delivery service, these new players could actually make better local delivery partners for 3PLs because they are:

  • More nimble and responsive, as they were specifically created to handle smaller, local, high-speed turnaround orders. In fact, a number of these firms originally focused on delivering time-sensitive and perishable items like hot food and groceries. Their sole purpose is to deliver quickly and accurately.
  • App and web-based, meaning they were designed from scratch to integrate with multiple digital networks. All offer robust API and partner developer support.
  • Often less expensive than large providers like UPS and FedEx, again, because their economic model was built around local delivery.
  • Usually more practiced and adept at providing a superior customer experience, as they are more familiar with dealing directly with members of the general public throughout the course of their daily deliveries.

In short, partnering with one of these new on-demand, same-day delivery services could provide yet another way for 3PLs to delight both their eCommerce clients and the consumers who purchase their offerings.

We hope you have found our pro-tips on partnering with on-demand, same-day delivery firms to be helpful.  If you would like to read our full 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report, click here to access your copy right away.

3PL-state-of-the-industry-report


  1. http://fortune.com/2015/10/09/flexe-warehousing-startup/
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/on-demand-delivery-failed-in-the-90s-2014-9
  3. https://help.shopify.com/manual/shipping/on-demand-deliveries
  4. https://www.datexcorp.com/making-waves-5-companies-changing-world-logistics-last-mile-delivery-e-commerce-fulfillment/
  5. https://postmates.com/

3PL Central

Written by 3PL Central

3PL Central was founded in 2006 by John Watkins and Nancy Rohman while running their own 3PL warehouse. When they were unable to find an adequate warehouse management system (WMS) to manage their own inventory and operations, they built the first cloud-based WMS solutions designed for 3PLs. Powerful, flexible, scalable, and specifically designed to help 3PLs and warehouses grow to the next level, our WMS solutions now serve more than 750 customers around the world.