Belgian firm to deliver ecommerce packages to parked cars

A new-start Belgian company is setting up a trial service that will offer to deliver ecommerce packages direct to recipients’ unattended cars. Cardrops has been founded by Nick De Mey and Philippe De Ridder, whose Antwerp-based business innovation company Board of Innovation had been working with ecommerce companies and automotive companies identifying potential new business opportunities, before discovering a potential niche of its own connecting the two sectors.

Using smart vehicle technology, Cardrops believes it can provide an alternative delivery point for consumers to avoid missing ecommerce package deliveries.

De Mey told Post&Parcel today that ecommerce consumers would allow Cardrops to gain access to the trunks of their cars to deposit packages so that they do not have to be at home to take delivery.

The service would effectively turn consumers’ own cars into “smart locker” parcel drop-off terminals, with free text message notifications of parcel arrival.

Pricing quoted on the Cardrops.com website offers a “Rockstar” service for a one-off starter kit fee of EUR 99 and EUR 4.95 per delivery charge, or a “Royal” option featuring a free starter kit and rolling EUR 24.95 per month delivery service.

The pilot looks likely to involve 25-50 cars, and should see Cardrops.com reporting back with its initial results next summer.

De Mey said: “We are currently setting up the technology and the database, and we are in discussion with different partners at the moment, focusing on a pilot in Belgium and Germany.”

Technology

The Cardrops co-founder said his company was trying various technologies to track vehicles’ locations and gain access into cars, but suggested that in modern vehicles they may arrange a system based on smart diagnostic technology that already allows access to locked vehicles for maintenance.

For older cars, he said a smart box could be made available for people to use the service.

“This is not new technology,” he said. “This is like tools used in car-sharing services where you are giving access to your car to other people.”

The “starter kit” would also help Cardrops plan its delivery routes – the box would send a GPS signal when the vehicle is stationary, so the company would know the consumer’s daily parking habits – from which a delivery route could be formulated.

If a car is moved prior to actual delivery, the drop-off can be cancelled and a new delivery plan devised.

Security

De Mey said the number one issue to solve in the service would be people’s concerns about security and privacy, since it involves breaking into people’s cars in order to leave their packages.

He said modern vehicle technology would mean people can offer access to their car trunks, but not the rest of their vehicle. Cardrops also states that it has insurance policies to the same standards as four-star hotels to back up the service.

The pilot will assess the technology in a “private mode” involving trusted parties, he said.

De Mey explained: “The first companies we will work with will be shipping items to their own employees, so there will be an existing trust relationship there between the client and those who order their products.”

Among the companies that Board of Innovation has previously worked with are eBay, Volkswagen, Cisco and La Poste, but De Mey said that while he couldn’t name any of the companies working on the trial at present, they did not include any of these four “reference” brands.

When a full service is running, De Mey said that Cardrops would work with existing parcel carriers, rather than providing the delivery side of the service itself.

“We don’t deliver ourselves, we would line up with existing delivery companies like a kind of matchmaking middle-man,” he said.

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