New app for couriers turns smart phones into scanners
A new app that allows smart phones to replace expensive scanners could help revolutionise the courier industry.
Christchurch developer LWA Solutions created the app for Dubai-based company Aramex which has 1500 courier franchisees in five countries, including New Zealand's Fastway Couriers.
LWA chief executive Atta Elayyan said the new app would allow Aramex to "Uberise" its workforce so anyone with a car or motorbike could use it to deliver parcels without having to equip them with expensive scanners.
As part of his research Elayyan spent a week on the job with Jordanian courier drivers who used GPS navigation systems, their personal phones and scanners to do deliveries.
"It was pretty cool being able to parcel all that into a single app that can be used on a low end smart phone.
"Drivers would commonly park up, scan a package, pull up customer details, manually input customer phone number into mobile, call customer and ask for directions. We consolidated all those steps with a click of a button."
Elayyan said it was quite a challenge creating a sophisticated bar code scanning app that Aramex wanted to work on a cell phone costing no more than US$200, but they cracked it.
"You're going from US$1500 for a scanner to zero because it's just an app on a phone. . . When Christmas comes and there's a huge influx of deliveries, [couriers] don't want to be buying 100 or 1000 scanners to meet the demand for just a couple of days."
Fastway Couriers general manger Scott Jenyns said the new app had only recently been released, and the company had not yet worked out how it would be used here.
But it definitely had potential for finding casual labour to cover peak periods and to reduce costs for urgent deliveries.
"It would be first in first served, much like Uber works, it's crowd-sourced from Jo Public.
"If a courier is away sick, or involved in an accident, we can quickly source someone to maintain the service."
Jenyns could also see applications for servicing customers in new or remote areas where there wasn't enough work to sustain a franchisee.
"Look at Auckland where there's new suburbs popping up overnight where we don't have any coverage by existing franchisees, and we'd have to service that at reasonably significant cost.
"With the pace and growth of technology, I would imagine that all courier companies will be using smart phones in some shape or form for their scanning , and that's probably going to happen in the next two years."