Wine, Produce E-Tailers Struggle With “Nobody At Home”

Written by Evan Schuman
November 30th, 2009

For the last 15 years, E-Commerce has happily delivered goods just like the Pony Express did 150 years ago: someone walking up to a door, ringing a doorbell and either leaving the package or handing it to a consumer. But there are segments of E-Commerce today—especially with sites selling alcohol and perishable foods—where this approach simply doesn’t work very well.

Wine deliveries often require signatures, and many fruits, vegetables and meats can be ruined by sitting out in extreme temperatures. Many two-income families are not home during much of the day, making such deliveries difficult. One vendor is trying to make some money off of this issue, by establishing alliances with businesses that will act as maildrops for such deliveries.

The move by Kinek is not without precedent. Overseas—especially in parts of Asia—such services are common, said Tom Bleir, Kinek’s vice president for business development. “In Japan, everyone gets their packages at the corner convenience store,” he said.

The Kinek effort goes beyond what Kinko’s, Mailboxes Etc. or the U.S. Postal Service offer, Kinek officials argue, because the network allows the locations to be changed at will.

On Tuesday, the consumer might want the package to be near her home, while Wednesday’s shipments are better delivered near her work. Next week, her packages should go to this business meeting 1,000 miles away and then to her parents’ house in Canada, where she’ll spend the holidays.

It’s hard to see this option making a major impact on E-Commerce. But for the few niches where it’s an issue, it could prove helpful.


2 Comments | Read Wine, Produce E-Tailers Struggle With “Nobody At Home”

  1. Rob Martell Says:

    I was thinking about how to do this very thing myself.

    As a single person who is at work all day, I am constantly annoyed by deliveries by UPS requiring a signature and endless post-it notices and several days delay. Sometimes they don’t take notice, or the slip blows off or won’t stick…
    One time I had a small order that just never showed up. I complained and went through all the steps. Since then, I now have to sign for EVERYTHING UPS delivers. I am at work at 10 or 11 am, and they leave the 1st notice. I sign it, tell them to leave it in the patio of the condo, and then the next day I have another slip. The first one, that I signed, is on the ground RIGHT UNDER the door handle.

    And no one can give a reasonable delivery date, NOR will they allow for you to pick a date, so you can be home…

    I’m all for this business, even though I though of it myself…


  2. cagers Says:

    Great idea!

    I ran into this issue twice recently and I wish I had known this was an alternative. First, I work from home, but spend most of my time at my clients’ offices and I really needed to receive a confidential package I received from a client. After missing it twice, I had to drive to FedEx near the airport to pick it up.

    The last time this came up, I was buying a gift for my son. I really did not want the box sitting at the door, because first of all it was expensive and second he would have seen it before his birthday. Instead of ruining the surprise, I again had to go pick up up way on the other side of town. In commute traffic, it took me almost 2 hours round trip.


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