On-demand delivery platforms evolve into new roles

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On-demand delivery platforms evolve into new roles

By Dan Berthiaume - 11/06/2020

Third-party online delivery specialists are diversifying their offerings of goods and services. 

Five months ago, I wrote a column about how on-demand delivery is becoming a standard fixture in the retail environment. Since then, on-demand delivery has solidified its standing as a mainstream offering and begun expanding in new directions. 

This evolution has been partially accelerated by the continuing impact of COVID-19 on consumer shopping habits, and is partially a natural outgrowth of on-demand delivery’s inherent convenience and utility. Here are three new roles providers in the space have been assuming in recent months.

Opening their own online stores
DoorDash is operating its own digital storefronts, stocked by participating retailers.
In August 2020, the company debuted a new e-commerce channel called “DashMart.”

DashMart offers both household essentials and local restaurant products for on-demand delivery. Assortment includes thousands of convenience, grocery and restaurant items, including ice cream, chips, cough medicine and dog food, spice rubs, and packaged desserts. DoorDash is partnering with both national and local convenience, grocery and food service retailers to stock stores. However, DashMart stores are owned, operated, and curated by DoorDash.

Operating as an e-commerce platform
Initially launching in Los Angeles, Postmates Shop enables customers to browse products for purchase and delivery from local retailers. Participating retailers can create a virtual storefront, hosted on the Postmates site and app, that gives customers digital access to their products.

Leveraging Postmates Shop, retailers can sell their inventory by showcasing products with organized, configurable catalogues including high-resolution images. The platform enables retailers to offer customers on-demand delivery, in-store pickup, or non-contact curbside pickup. 

Postmates, which was acquired by Uber in July for $2.65 billion, is moving beyond its core offering as a food delivery platform to provide something closer to a hosted e-commerce experience for small retailers in verticals including apparel and home décor. Postmates Shop is not yet the type of end-to-end e-commerce solution offered by leading platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce, but future moves bear watching.

Rapid Rx services provider 
Home delivery of prescription medications has steadily increased in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Sam’s Club is partnering with DoorDash to become the latest retailer to provide home delivery of eligible prescription medications.

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges to in-person shopping by consumers who are older or have health conditions, on-demand delivery platforms are becoming a valuable mechanism for fast, contactless access to vital prescriptions.

For example, CVS is partnering with UPS’ Flight Forward unit will use drones to deliver prescription medications from a CVS pharmacy to The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community. The new service uses Matternet’s M2 drone system and could expand to include deliveries from two additional central Florida CVS pharmacies located in the vicinity.

The companies said that drone transport offers a fast delivery option for medicines that are time-sensitive while supporting social-distancing efforts. CVS and UPS made their first drone deliveries of medical prescriptions from a CVS pharmacy in Cary, N.C., in November 2019.

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