Forget the Post Office, now the Waffle House wants to get into the business of providing innovative ways to have packages delivered. The Wall Street Journal reports:
In the latest bid to disrupt FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., startup Roadie Inc. aims to entice college students and other travelers to earn some extra pocket money by delivering packages on the way to where they’re already going.
Waffle House Inc. will unveil a partnership Tuesday to become part of the network of pickup points for the service, offering a place for drivers to rendezvous with both senders and receivers.
Roadie is still small but it joins Lyft, which lets you get a ride from work with the click of an app and Airbnb, which lets you find a place to crash for the night via your smart phone, as innovators.
Waffle House has more than 1,700 locations in 25 states and plans to use those restaurants as the launching pad and hub for delivery service activity. They say that possible earnings for drivers could be substantial.
Still very early, but if Roadie is workable, it would put Waffle House in direct competition with the U.S. Post Service, FedEx, and even Amazon which has been innovating in getting deliveries to customers as quickly as possible. Uber has also been experimenting with delivery services over the past few years from fresh groceries to household items.
We don’t know if Roadie will fail or prosper, but we do know that this is an example of the market at work: the market throws up new services and products and they rise or fall because of market-driven factors. If it succeeds, it will be because it finds a way to deliver a great new service people want. If it fails, it won’t cost the taxpayer a cent.
The Fiscal Times explains how the system will work:
If there’s one thing the sharing economy needed more of, it’s waffles. Now it’s getting them.
Waffle House’s 24-hour diners will serve as part of a network of meeting points for those senders and drivers, or drivers and package recipients — putting the restaurant chain firmly in the territory of FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Roadie drivers can get a free waffle for downloading the app and a free drink when they make a delivery (plus 80 percent of the fee Roadie gets, which reportedly will range from $12 to $200).
Roadie just launched in the Southeast last month… For now, though, the app has only been downloaded about 7,500 times, according to The Wall Street Journal, and Roadie drivers have only been asked to deliver about 50 items.
Roadie will undoubtedly face some challenges as it looks to grow, like making sure drivers aren’t used to deliver contraband or illegal items — an issue that has resulted in legal troubles for the much larger FedEx and UPS — and convincing would-be drivers to go out of their way, even briefly, for a few extra bucks.
Millennials love innovation –especially when new companies use technology to deliver the goods and services we rely on in a more efficient, less costly way. Most Americans like to get more options and quantities what they want at lower prices.
However, not everyone is hot on innovation: established industries. As we've seen how the taxicab industry has responded to Uber and Lyft, cronyism fights back against market competition by running to government to secure new protections and regulations to keep entrepreneurs and innovators out of.
The tidal wave of what is called the sharing economy is too much to ignore though. The global sharing economy market was valued at $26 billion in 2013 and some predict it will grow to become a $110 billion revenue market in the coming years, making it larger than the U.S. chain restaurant industry. While still new and largely concentrated in urban areas with Millennials, there is tremendous room for growth among a generation that sees social, environmental, and fiscal value in sharing or renting the assets we own.
Roadie must address challenges over whether this service can be safe and convenient, and it will likely face legal battles from established businesses that try to close down competition. If ride-sharing is any indication of the fight ahead, Roadie may want to start thinking through contingency plans for legal battles now.