Could the 'sharing economy' make parcel delivery cheaper?

Nimber CEO Ari Kestin

A new delivery service has been launched in the UK, which has promised to do for the delivery business what uber did for taxis and airbnb did for holiday accommodation. But does it really work and would you use it?

The service is called Nimber. The idea is that it matches up people who were travelling somewhere anyway (who they call 'bringers') with people who want to send items (senders). It offers to transport anything at all - no matter how big and bulky or how it is packaged. The company says it has delivered everything from furniture to bikes, treadmills and toilets.

You just visit the website, input details of what you want to send, where you need it picked up from and delivered to, and the kind of vehicle required to deliver it. Then you set your fee (Nimble uses its algorithms to suggest a sensible fee). Finally, you input your email address, and it will email you when one of its members makes an offer. You then arrange collection and pay the bringer direct. At the moment, the company isn't taking any commission, but when it gets a bit bigger in the UK, it will also take a portion of each transaction.

Benefits

The company claims that the fee is often cheaper than Royal Mail or other delivery systems. It suggests, for example, that you might pay £20 to ship a skateboard from London to Birmingham, or £30 to send a bike from Bristol to Coventry.

It says it is completely safe, and that no items have ever been stolen in the history of the company. However, it also insures items worth up to £500, so you have peace of mind if anything was to go wrong.

Not only can it save people money, but it's also an innovative way to generate income. People who are planning a car journey can make enough money to cover the cost of their petrol, while those with half a van load can fill it up and make a decent sum of money for their trouble.
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The catch

It's a great idea, and already has a number of jobs listed in the UK. The only catch is that the system works best with lots of members. The more bringers and senders that sign up, the better the chance that they will be matched effectively with other members. At the moment, in some areas there are so few members, that you're highly unlikely to find a bringer going your way, or a sender willing to pay you for a journey you were making anyway.

However, the company's experience in Norway bodes well for the business. It has been running in Norway for two years, where it has 30,000 members, and has delivered 10,000 packages a year. The top five most commonly delivered items are sofas, bikes, motorbikes, cupboards and chairs and tables.

CEO Ari Kestin (pictured above) said: "We are very excited to take the unbelievable momentum we are seeing in Norway and carry that with us into the UK. Our community is our backbone, it's what makes us go and we are going very well."

But what do you think? Would you use a service like this? Let us know in the comments.

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Could the 'sharing economy' make parcel delivery cheaper?

This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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