Could Uber disrupt the UK courier market?

By Chris Dawson January 24, 2016 - 4:55 pm

Uber Parcel AppA new report, “The Uberfication of Deliveries” by international parcels broker ParcelHero reveals how you may soon be having your packages delivered by Uber. It’s a move set to deliver loss-making Uber $24.6bn internationally – but could mean war on the streets over Britain’s lucrative £7bn express courier industry.

There’s a massive overhead in setting up a new courier network, the incumbent carriers have a van driving down just about every street in Britain on a daily basis and to replicate that costs a lot of money. In recent year’s we’ve seen Amazon setting up Amazon Logistics and they’re not shy about splashing the cash and making a loss. Still they’re in the very low double figures number of depots and drivers are contracted out to local courier companies.

The only other significant new logistics operation is Argos, and they’ve had to invest in 3,000 vans and drivers to get going. Argos however didn’t have to invest in depots as they’ve already got around 750 retail stores which their private courier network operates from.

Uber however is different. As with Amazon they contract with private companies – often one man bands, but their volume in the cities they operate has a significant effect on the existing couriers. Just Google London’s Black Cab drivers’ reactions or read up on the furore caused by Uber setting up in Brighton.

In the US we’ve already seen Uber competing with couriers – imagine booking a parcel delivery and the nearest available private courier immediately divert to collect your parcels, notified by the Uber app on their mobile. Uber significantly disrupts traditional markets and ParcelHero forecast that’s exactly what’s going to happen with the UK courier market.

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