Last week I had to send some documents to Bangladesh -- a small third world nation, 8K miles from the US. Quite far, right! If you thought there were no shipping services from the US to Bangladesh, think again. There is! FedEx operates there and much like the US they have big office spaces, employees, pickups, and drivers, there too!
With no other option on hand, I went to FedEx to ship the documents. As soon as I entered a young employee greeted me. I informed him that I had some documents that needed to be shipped.
He asked back, ‘Where’?
‘Bangladesh’, I said.
He looked with utter amazement. ‘Where’? He asked again!
‘It’s a small country besides India’, I said.
‘O! near Russia’? he frowned!
I was baffled by his lack of geographical knowledge. Or has he been watching too much of CNN lately?!
Puzzled, I handed him the documents which were in a clear report cover. He asked me whether there were any passports or credit cards inside. I politely answered, ‘No’. He said he still needed to check the documents! I nodded my head in the affirmative. He started browsing every single page of the 35+ pages. I stood still, awed and terrified waiting for his examination to be over – a horrible, lengthy experience!
Soon after his examinations were done the documents were weighed inside a FedEx envelope.
‘1.4 lb., will go out tonight and reach Dhaka in 3 days, fee $122.69’, he looked at me!
‘That’s expensive’, I could not help but exclaim!
The FedEx envelope made of heavy cardstock paper seemed to weigh a ton! I asked him if there was a cheaper option, even if that meant the package got delivered a couple days later. He replied quickly. No, and asked me to come to the other side of the counter. The screen showed another option -- 7 days later but it was the same exact rate, $122.69. Really, FedEx!!
With no other real option, I paid the charge with my new Chase Reserve card (the only consolidation of the already horrible trip). I smirked to the idea of how Airposted started, from the same problem – the hassle and high costs of shipping! Even shipping paper is so expensive - it surprises me.
I do not blame FedEx for charging their customers so high. After all, they must! They must pay for their huge offices, shipping and distribution centers, pickup and drop off locations, planes, ships, trucks, cars and thousands and thousands if not millions of employees. The list goes on and on. I don’t blame them at all!
But when you compare their fee(s) with a person’s airfare it shocks me. A one-way airfare to Bangladesh costs $550 roughly and if you carried 4 of these ‘1.4-pound documents’ you could well make up for all the fare!
Enter Airposted! A tech startup that is trying to change the way products is shipped around the world. A simple concept, connecting people who are traveling to people with shipping needs.
People traveling carry items and get paid for carrying them which offsets their travel fare. A traveler can typically earn up to $500 every trip and all they need is to just sign up and put their travel dates. (www.airposted.com) After signing up, they can start sending and receiving offers from the thousands of buyers/senders on the platform who requests items.
Both the buyer and traveler are in charge to set a fee that works best for them – Airposted is an open and social platform! Users can message each other within the platform and decide who their best fit is, before confirming a deal and paying. Airposted buyers are always happy since they pay a small shipping fee and deliveries often happen faster than FedEx.
Though there is no ‘send’ option now, there are plans for that. Airposted has a clear vision -- to operate in seven continents with drop-off and pick-up locations. The vision implies on never to own a pickup, plane, ship or rocket!
Sooner or later, these shipping and logistic goliaths will need to surrender to the power and rise of technology and the shared concept. A 200+ Billion-dollar industry is about to get disrupted! A wind of change is coming, a strong, strong gust of wind that will hopefully revolutionize, transform and revitalize the ever-stagnant shipping industry for the better.
Note: FedEx did deliver my package a day earlier than scheduled!