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Package-Receiving Services: Problem or Solution for Merchants?

These days, there’s an app for everything – even ones that help online shoppers schedule their deliveries. Doorman is one such app – the service acts as a middleman between the customer and the retailer shipping the goods.

“Doorman is a package delivery scheduling service that allows you to get your online purchases (or anything else) delivered to your door until midnight,” the service explains. “You choose the day and time that you want the packages delivered, and you’ll never again see a failed delivery sticker, or need to lug boxes home from work. We deliver 7 days a week from 6pm until midnight.”

Doorman provides users with a shipping address – “we’ll alert you when it arrives at our secure depot,” it explains. At that point, customers tell Doorman when to deliver their package.

How much do shoppers pay for the privilege? There are three pricing plans ranging from $3.99 per package with 2-hour delivery windows on up to unlimited packages for $29/month in 1-hour delivery windows – plus, those Gold subscribers get unlimited package returns.

Doorman is currently offering a free trial – “your first package is on us,” it states.

While such a service sounds attractive, shoppers have greater flexibility than in the past with standard shipping carriers – for example, UPS offers My Choice. Customers can sign up to receive advance delivery notifications informing them of the delivery timing of each UPS package and can reroute packages to another address or reschedule deliveries for a future date before a UPS driver makes a delivery. Consumers can also activate a vacation setting to have packages held and delivered when they return home.

Doorman is up against other types of services such as in-store pickup and delivery lockers. And as far as services like Doorman, one potential problem that could arise for online merchants is the discrepancy in when the package is shown to be delivered and when the customer actually receives the package from the middleman. Another issue is damage – who’s responsible for any damage a middleman service inflicts on a package – and how to determine which party actually damaged the good?

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.