- You can get food, alcohol, clothing and more quickly through delivery services.
- A reliable delivery service offers quick delivery, an intuitive user interface, easy returns, consistent access, and sometimes free shipping or delivery.
- Your business can use delivery services to get office supplies quickly, set up holiday parties or outsource specific tasks. You can also start your own delivery service if you identify gaps that current options don’t cover.
- This article is for consumers and small business owners looking for convenient delivery services and entrepreneurs interested in launching their own services.
Few things are more satisfying than not leaving your house or office to access your favorite things. That’s what delivery provides. Whether it’s dinner, clothes, adult beverages or emergency snacks, delivery apps are a huge part of how people and businesses shop. Below, learn how people and businesses alike can use delivery services – or start a new business in the delivery space.
Many food-delivery options exist, covering various cuisines and servicing many areas. Here are three top services to consider.
Craving food from your favorite restaurant or need to pick up a few things from the store but don’t feel like leaving your house? Postmates, a website and mobile app, is a unique delivery service that gives you the freedom to get exactly what you want from stores and restaurants without in-house delivery services.
Have a craving at 2 a.m., or need something important? Postmates is available 24 hours a day, every day. Customers can order a variety of items, including pizza, prescriptions, shoes and tech products, and have them delivered in under an hour.
Deliveries are made by couriers called Postmates, who travel by bike, scooter, car or truck. The delivery fee ranges from $1.99 to $9.99 and varies based on the distance couriers must travel and the type of items you buy. There is also a variable service fee.
Did you know? Workplace meals improve productivity. Consider using a service like Postmates to deliver lunch for your team so everyone can eat together.
Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients to your door weekly to create delicious, healthy meals. Blue Apron offers plans that range from $7.99 to $11.99 per serving. Meal options – including vegetarian and wellness choices – change weekly.
The website provides a detailed breakdown of the weekly menu. When you select a specific menu item, you’ll see an itemized list of what you need, how to prepare the items and photos that show how to cook the meal. According to the site, you can skip a week or cancel up to five weeks in advance.
Instacart is a grocery delivery service that’s ideal if you don’t have time to or just can’t get to the store. Shop online via the Instacart website or mobile app at various stores, including small local shops and large stores like Whole Foods and Costco. Instacart connects you with a personal shopper who picks up the items on your list and delivers them to your door in as fast as an hour.
The service operates between 9 a.m. and midnight every day – though that can change depending on the store’s operating hours.
If you’re interested in trying Instacart, your first delivery is free when you sign up. You can also purchase Instacart gift cards for others or sign up for the service’s annual membership: Instacart Express.
Did you know?: Buyers who are members of a store’s customer loyalty program can add their loyalty cards to Instacart to receive discounts, freebies and perks.
Many states allow alcohol delivery. However, some states don’t permit alcohol delivery or may enforce exceptions or regulations. Check your region’s laws before using one of these alcohol delivery services.
Drizly comes in very handy if you’re throwing a party and realize you’re out of alcohol or hosting a dinner and don’t have enough wine. Use the Drizly website or iOS or Android app to order items like wine, beer, liquor, mixers and garnishes. You can also order party supplies such as ice, plastic cups and bottle openers. Drizly makes it easy to stock up without leaving the comfort of your home.
Order what you need, pay for it via the app or website, and a driver will deliver your items in less than one hour. Drizly does not charge a markup on products, and you can use the service to send alcohol as a gift and schedule deliveries up to 48 hours in advance. If you’re in New York, there’s no additional charge for delivery; however, in other cities the service charges a $5 delivery fee and a $1.99 service fee.
Minibar is another alcohol delivery service that lets you order wine, liquor, beer, mixers, ice, garnishes and even snacks. You can also book a bartender for a party or corporate event through Minibar. The business partners with local liquor stores, so it isn’t guaranteed to be available in every city or town.
To get started you’ll need to provide your address; the website will show you all the items available in your area. Once you find something you like, you’ll see the business fulfilling your order, any additional fees and how long delivery will take.
Minibar currently has an app for iOS and Android to make browsing easier. The service requires that liquor stores in your area already offer delivery.
Tip: If you’re planning a corporate event, use one of the best project management software applications to keep tabs on the venue, speakers, menus, agendas and travel.
If you need an outfit in a hurry, clothing delivery services can get a customized look to you in as little as a day.
Need business casual outfits for work or special occasion clothing? Stitch Fix is here to assist anyone who wants flattering, fashionable outlets without ever stepping foot in a store.
Once you sign up for the service, you’ll fill out a profile with your size, style, preferences, budget and lifestyle. Next, choose a convenient delivery date. When your Stitch Fix stylist selects your items you’ll be charged a $20 styling fee, which will be credited toward anything you keep from your shipment. Once you receive your items, you have three days to try on the clothes, keep what you want and send back the rest. You’re only charged what you keep.
Whether you always forget to drop off your dry cleaning, don’t have a washing machine in your home or just hate doing laundry, Rinse can help. Rinse is a dry cleaning and laundry service that will pick up your dirty laundry and deliver clean clothes to your door within four days. The service is available online and has an iPhone and Android app. Customers can have their laundry picked up between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. For your first order, Rinse will give you bags for separating your items along with instructions – and the bags are yours to keep.
If you’re looking for workout and leisure clothes but hate going to stores to try on clothes – or if stores never have what you’re looking for – Fabletics might save the day. Launched by Kate Hudson, the clothing subscription company constantly releases new collections inspired and designed by popular celebrities. It’s known for flattering and comfortable clothes to wear while working out, lounging or sleeping.
When you first sign up, your first outfit is heavily discounted (usually two pairs of leggings for $24). After that you’re charged $54.95 per month, which you can use toward any two-piece outfit or one item that costs at least $80. You can skip months if you don’t want to pay, but if you don’t notify Fabletics that you’re skipping that month by the fifth, you’re charged the usual $54.95. (However, that charge is a credit that doesn’t expire.)
Tip: Interested in fashion-related business ideas? Consider producing fashion shows, becoming a fashion blogger or working as a photo stylist.
The best features of item delivery services
While everyone’s needs differ, delivery services should prioritize specific elements for the best chance of success – especially when there’s so much competition. Whether you’re a consumer or a delivery service, here are the features that resonate.
1. Offer free shipping or delivery.
Offering free shipping or delivery will endear customers to your service, if your company can afford it.
With that said, some services – such as DoorDash – allow participating restaurants to set their own delivery costs, usually determined by distance from the customer’s location. There may also be a flat fee all customers must pay.
Consumers understand they’re paying for the convenience of at-home delivery. However, they’ll enthusiastically receive any delivery, discount or shipping perks you offer, such as online coupons.
2. Provide fast delivery or scheduled delivery.
Most food and grocery delivery services offer same-day service. Most, if not all, delivery times for apps like Postmates (owned by Uber) are roughly an hour.
Subscription services like Blue Apron or Stitch Fix schedule deliveries on a weekly, monthly or bimonthly basis, so customers know when the shipment is coming. Other delivery services, like Drizly and Minibar, depend on local stores’ delivery schedules. Delivery times may be two hours, same day or the next day, depending on their schedule.
If a service can offer expedited or convenient delivery options, customers will appreciate it.
3. Create delivery services that are easy to use.
Delivery services are designed to make life easier, so if a service’s interface is too confusing to place an order – or it takes too long – customers will likely abandon their efforts. Sometimes, creating accounts, downloading extensions or other demands will deter users – who have many other services vying for their business.
Customers appreciate delivery service apps that save their payment info, addresses, preferences and previous orders. They also value multiple convenient payment options, including mobile wallets and Apple Pay.
4. Present reliability and consistency.
Item delivery services sometimes get a bad rap for replacing something a customer ordered with an unsatisfactory substitution. Delivery services should always include specific instructions for what to do if an item isn’t available. For example, Instacart lets you specify replacement items or choose to have the shopper contact you directly to select alternatives.
Customers understand that what they want may not always be available, but they’ll still be pleased with the interaction if they maintain control.
5. Give free returns.
Ordering online has risks, so businesses should have excellent return policies that make it easy for customers to send something back. For example, many e-commerce companies let customers print free return labels to send items back via UPS or the post office. Even better are retailers that refund your money but don’t make you return the item.
A robust return policy is often what makes customers choose one business over another, especially for items with hard-to-judge sizes, like shoes and swimwear.
Obviously, free and easy returns don’t apply to food delivery apps, as you can’t return a burrito. However, these services should offer excellent customer service to help rectify situations where the wrong item was delivered or the quality was unsatisfactory.
Did you know?: Empower your customer service team with the training and authority to rectify customer situations quickly and turn unhappy customers into loyal ones.
How small business owners can use delivery services
Postmates is an excellent business-friendly delivery service. Use the app to buy necessary office supplies like paper, power strips and charging cables without leaving your desk. Postmates will deliver these items in about an hour.
If your company is hosting a holiday party, but you can’t run out to the liquor store, Drizly and Minibar are helpful. Minibar can also connect you with a bartender for your events. And if you run a hospitality business, Rinse can outsource your laundry operations to help you save money on laundry machines and staff.
Beyond the apps on this list, you can find delivery services for all kinds of needs. If your business has a highly specific delivery requirement, search for a service that fits the bill. You never know what you might find.
How to start your own delivery service
Starting your own delivery service involves following the usual steps for starting a business. You’ll need to refine your delivery service idea, create a business plan and determine whether you’ll need outside funding.
You’ll also need to secure arrangements with companies that manufacture or stock the items your delivery service will provide. You’ll then have to market your delivery service to distinguish it from the many others out there. You’ll also need to explore your legal obligations and business insurance requirements.
Signed, sealed and delivered
As a consumer, delivery services can bring new levels of convenience to your life. As an entrepreneur, anything you see lacking with current platforms can provide an idea for your own delivery service. The more you use these services, the more opportunities you might find.
Max Freedman and Shannon Gausepohl contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.