uParcel enters courier delivery race with disruptive technology
18 September 2021
Straits Times Feature on uParcel 26 Nov 2015
Online shopping is huge in Singapore. Consumers are expected to spend $4.4 billion on e-purchases this year, according to a recent e-commerce study by PayPal and Singapore Management University.
Ms Mabeline Xie of local logistics start-up uParcel said that in a mature market such as the United States, the average order size could be $100. If the same order size is applied here, it could work out to 44 million parcels this year, she added.
With such a potentially vast market, she set up uParcel last September, knowing that it is up against current market leader SingPost and courier firms like DHL.
uParcel is disruptive, she said, because it does not need to build large warehouses - unlike SingPost. SingPost just did its groundbreaking for a $182 million regional eCommerce Logistics Hub. Every time a traditional courier expands, it has to invest in warehouses, sorting systems, and fleets of vehicles.
These are expensive capital investments, she said, adding that they will need to have a business volume that will come from big online retailers.
uParcel, which targets small online vendors, has no such assets. It uses mobile technology to bring together online vendors and delivery agents. Online vendors will post-delivery requests with the pick-up and drop-off locations. uParcel agents near these locations will be automatically selected based on their mobile GPS location. Once the agent accepts the assignment, he exchanges details with the vendor. Last-minute changes can be accepted because the vendor can contact the agent. Vendors can also track the delivery status on uParcel's mobile app. uParcel also provides insurance on every delivery.
Ms. Xie said the agents could be anyone who wants to earn an extra income. But the start-up vets them to ensure, for example, that they have valid driving licenses. uParcel now has 300 delivery agents. Ms. Xie aims to levy a commission on each delivery in the future.
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