Delivery Services

Pandemic Crushed Crowdsourced Shipping Companies

crowdsourced shipping

Since the pandemic started 59% of the crowdsourced shipping companies shut down. I had 76 active social shipping networks on my spreadsheet, and that’s down to just 31 now. That’s a lot! But it’s not surprising. Crowdsourced shipping leverages empty space in traveler’s luggage or trunk. Travelers can make some money and recipients can save money and get products not available locally.

As far as I know, most of the businesses in the social shipping space are not making money, or at least not much. Most companies in this space are small startups. So when travel basically stopped during the Covid pandemic, it’s no surprise most of these businesses couldn’t hang on. The 31 still in business are possibly more of a surprise. I expect more will disappear before the end of 2021.

I put together a guide to profiting from peer to peer delivery a few years ago. Half the companies I mentioned in there are gone. I’m still not certain this area of business is sustainable outside of some very specific markets. Even when global travel returns to normal, there are still some significant legal hurdles for these businesses. You don’t want to be caught going through immigration with items that don’t comply with import laws. Airmule’s business importing into China highlights these concerns.

I’ve dabbled in social shipping myself, primarily through PiggyBee, one of the original companies in this space and one of the few still around. A few years ago I flew to Spain with an extra pair of shoes in my luggage. The runner in Spain wanted this specific brand that wasn’t available in his country. On another trip I delivered the game Warewolf to a guy in Japan. In both cases I had fun and got some nice non-monetary rewards. I look for crowdsourced shipping gigs for all of my international travel.  Sadly, like most of the world, I haven’t traveled internationally for more than 18 months due to the pandemic.