Starting a business is an excellent way to learn and develop new skills and earn a few bucks along the way. Whether your intention is to create a multi-million dollar empire or just have a side-hustle, there is no better time than now to start a business, especially a local delivery one.
With the internet, all the tools you need are right at your fingertips, available whenever you need them. It’s easier than ever to start and run your own business, and you don’t even have to leave your chair.
In fact, if you use Shopify (more on that below), you can run your entire local delivery business from just one platform. You just need to sign up for a plan and install some key apps from the Shopify App Store. Of course, thinking of what kind of business to start is the hardest part. But if you need help focusing your thinking, we suggest starting a local delivery business.
Why start a delivery business?
For some business owners, the choice to get into local deliveries wasn’t their own to make. COVID-19 shutdowns across the world forced many business to adapt or become extinct. Since customers were no longer coming in to their stores, these business owners had to put their inventories online. They had to develop strategies for curbside pick-up and deliveries, and figure out how to market their stores.
For others, COVID-19 has opened up a new world of possibilities. Consumer demand for deliveries is up and a delivery-arm is becoming an important pillar for many businesses. And as mentioned above, the internet is making things easier than ever.
Some reasons you may want to consider starting a business with local deliveries being a key piece of your operation are:
- It supports your neighbourhood
- It is easier and cheaper to market your business locally
- It is easier to build loyal customers
It supports your neighbourhood
By building a business that serves a local audience, you are directly impacting the lives of those around you. When you deliver an order to someone in your local area, you get to see your customer in the reality of their surroundings. This is as oppose to sending your products to someone faceless in a place you don’t know. That’s powerful if you think about it!
That is why many local businesses also give back to their communities in charitable forms. The relationship between a business and the community around it is a tight-knit one that feels good to be a part of.
It is easier and cheaper to market your business locally
The internet is massive, and getting your store and products to stand out is no easy task. You are competing for millions of eyeballs. If you don’t have the capital or right marketing gimmick to attract attention, you might as well be invisible. However, marketing locally reduces this competition. For any online marketing you do, you can limit the geography to the area you are serving. You don’t have to compete for the same customer-base as your competitors in different cities. Marketing locally also gives you more options to advertise. You can do some grassroots campaigns, like putting up posters and flyers and talking to people.
It is easier to build loyal customers
People love to support local. This is a trend that is only going to grow with time. If you are providing a good service, chances are your local customers are going to come back to you each and every time.
- 86% of consumers said they were willing to “pay a little more to work with a small business.”
- Along with consistently good customer service, consumers value the “personalized experience, unique products or services and a sense of familiarity” that small businesses provide.
- Trust is paramount, as 95% of respondents said they are more likely to be loyal to a small business that they can rely on.
How to start a local delivery business
Okay, so you’ve got your local business idea. Now it’s time to bring it to life.
We’re not going to get into the nitty gritty of registering your business, or how to build a social following or record keeping for tax purposes. Instead, we’re going to look at how to set up a store that serves a local area, how to schedule your deliveries, and how to deliver your orders. Here are the tools you are going to need:
- Shopify — To help sell whatever you want
- Supertime — To help schedule your deliveries
- EasyRoutes — To create your delivery routes
Shopify — Sell your stuff
Shopify is a commerce platform that allows you to set up an online store and sell your products. It’s super easy to use out of the box, and you can pick the right theme for your brand. You can also install apps to help you run your business (we’ll get in to those below).
Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs from over 175 countries trust Shopify to help sell their products and more are joining every day. You can sell anything and everything on Shopify, from physical to digital goods, or event tickets to subscription services.
When a customer buys from you, you can collect all of their contact information as well as the address they would like to receive their delivery at.
Shopify has a ton of features and functionality and it’s very easy to get set up.
To get started, visit Shopify.com and click the “Start free trial” button at the top-right of the page.
You will be prompted to enter in your email address, password, and store name.
Click the “Create your store” button and your store will be created!
Shopify will then ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself and your business.
And before your installation is complete you will need to enter in your contact information.
That’s it! Once you have completed your registration, Shopify will load up your new store’s Admin site. Here, Shopify will guide you through the rest of the steps you need to complete to set up your store:
- Add your products
- Customize your theme
- Set up your payments
Hit the “Launch store” button when you’re done!
Supertime — Delivery Date and Time Picker
So now you’ve got a business idea, a store, and some products set up in Shopify to start selling. Great! Now you can flip the switch and start collecting orders. But before you do that, you will want to ensure you are collecting the information you need from your customers to help you plan and prepare for your deliveries. Important information like when does your customer want to receive their delivery?
Supertime is a third-party Shopify app you can install on your store via the Shopify App Store. It allows your customers to select a date and time for local delivery or in-store pickup before they check out. Supertime adds date and time selectors to your store cart page.
Your customer can choose their method of delivery and select a date and time for it using an easy-to-use calendar pop-up. When your customer completes checkout, this date and time is added to the order notes. This info can then be accessed in our delivery routing app, EasyRoutes (detailed below).
The biggest benefit to using Supertime is that it saves you the back-and-forth communication with your customers to settle on a time. You customer just picks what works best for them from the get-go.
To install Supertime, visit the Supertime Delivery Date and Time Picker listing on the Shopify App Store and click the “Add app” button. If you are not already logged in, you will be prompted to enter in your Shopify store URL.
Review the permissions and click the “Install app” button.
You will then enter the Supertime app within your Shopify admin. Here, you should follow the Getting Started guide to get set up; the first step of which is to create your delivery methods and schedules.
Click on the Settings tab.
By default Supertime has a “Local Delivery” delivery method set up. You can add more (e.g. “Store Pick-up”, “Shipping”) if you need them. Click on the edit pencil icon to edit this method.
Use this section to customize your delivery method with the settings that let you show your customers the right dates and timeslots for selection in Supertime. You can layer schedules so you can have one set of time slots for some days, and another set of time slots for other days (e.g. different operating hours).
You can set up what days of the week you want to deliver. You can also create time slots as delivery windows and limit the number of customers that can pick from that time slot. We recommend setting larger time windows for deliveries. If you have small time slots there is a much bigger chance of falling behind schedule due to overseen events like traffic.
If there are days in the future you don’t want customers to book, like holidays, you can block them off with Supertime’s blackout calendar.
Once you’ve gone through all the settings, click the Save button at the top of the page, and then you will have to click Save one more time on the settings page to apply your new schedule to your site. Follow the rest of the Supertime Getting Started Guide to test that everything is working correctly.
EasyRoutes – Turn your orders into delivery routes
Now we’re moving along. We’re got a store online. We’re getting orders. Customers are giving us dates and times they want to receive their stuff. Now comes the challenge of actually getting them their orders!
It turns out creating delivery routes is actually really complicated due to something called the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). The TSP asks the following question: Given a list of cities and the distances between each pair of cities, what is the shortest possible route that visits each city exactly once and returns to the origin city?”
For many businesses attempting deliveries, here is where they find a lot of challenges. Normally creating delivery routes can take hours of time, but thanks to apps like EasyRoutes, you can create delivery routes in seconds.
EasyRoutes is another third-party Shopify app that directly integrates with your store. It takes all your orders and turns them into optimized delivery routes, which saves you even more time and money.
EasyRoutes also grows with your business, so you can start out on the lowest plan doing your own deliveries, and then moving up to sharing routes you’ve created with your drivers. It’s scalable which is nice to know as you focus on growing your new local delivery business.
To install EasyRoutes, visit the EasyRoutes Local Delivery Routes Planner listing on the Shopify app store and click the “Add app” button. If you’re not logged in you will be prompted to enter in your MyShopify store URL.
Review and accept the permissions and click the “Install app” button.
You will then be taken to the EasyRoutes app screen within your Shopify admin.
EasyRoutes lets you customer what columns you want to see on your Home view. Click on the Settings tab and check the Supertime boxes at the bottom of the list. Now back on the Home screen you can see all the dates and times your customers have selected attached to your orders. You can sort and filter those columns to make it even more fine-grain.
To create a route, you simply need to select the orders you wish to route and click the “Create a new route” button.
EasyRoutes will then take you to the new route you have created. Here you can see your stops on a map and edit the route by re-ordering, removing, or adding stops.
You even get a handy route inventory to help with packing.
Once everything is looking good, you can share your route with a driver or do your deliveries yourself. When viewing your dispatched route on a mobile device, everything will be formatted so all the information you need is right at your fingertips, from addresses to customer contact information.
When you start your route EasyRoutes will email all your customers to let them know their orders are on the way.
Click the Mark as Delivered button and your customers will receive an email saying their order has been delivered. EasyRoutes will also update your Shopify backend so the status of your orders are updated as well. The more you can automate, the less you have to do!
You can do it with the right tools
Hopefully this article has been helpful and has shown you that starting a local delivery business can be easy with the right tools like Shopify to host your store, Supertime to help you schedule deliveries, and EasyRoutes to help you plan and execute your delivery routes.
Scheduling and routing are some of the biggest challenges delivery businesses face, and Supertime and EasyRoutes almost put that on autopilot. That way you can focus on some of the other challenges, like marketing, growing your customer-base, and making sales!