By Michael Bennett, CoFounder of ManyShip, The P2P Social Shipping Platform
This is a pre-release of “The Definitive Guide on Peer to Peer Shipping” which will be available on the ManyShip site next week. In the official release, we will include updated content including how to have something delivered and visual guides as well. For now, enjoy the guide and begin to learn more about the wonderful process of P2P shipping.
What is Peer to Peer Shipping?
Peer to peer shipping is the process of connecting people needing to send things with people near them who are traveling to the destination they are sending to. In essence, it is the process of applying the peer to peer model (also known as person to person or P2P) championed by organizations such as Peers.org, to the global postal services industry.
Where did the idea originate from?
Peer to peer shipping in a technology platform has only began to be implemented in the last year, but the concept has been around for over a while. ManyShip founder Prasad Kopanati (@pkopanati) coined the term peer to peer shipping or social shipping over twelve years ago when he started to send things back to his family in India after coming to the US as a graduate student. You can read more about his story here.
How does it work?
Peer to peer shipping is based on leveraging technology web platforms or mobile applications to connect people needing to send goods, packages, presents, and items, with people that are traveling to those destinations. People sending are referred to as “senders” or “shippers”. People that are traveling are referred to as “travelers” or “carriers”. By creating a platform, companies attempt to bridge the supply and demand aspects of the market, which are the supply of people traveling, matched with a demand for people needing to ship goods.
When someone needing to send something joins a site like ManyShip, they can search the current inventory of travelers, or post their need. If someone is traveling and wants to make money, meet new people, and help others, they post their trip. The site matches these people and allows them to communicate and then do a transaction. We created some simple guides to help you learn How to Send and How to Carry with ManyShip.
What are the benefits?
There are various benefits of peer to peer shipping for both senders and travelers. The most common advantages for people sending are a faster, greener, and more inexpensive shipping process. Travelers earn money, help others, and make great connections around the world. Let’s examine more in-depth the benefits for both types of users:
Faster: Peer to peer networks help you send your things faster by using pre-existing travel patterns which are a lot more efficient than the big, centralized, postal carrier. You can send your things pretty much anywhere in the world in 20-36 hours internationally (3-14 times faster than postal), and in 1-2 hours locally (12-48 times faster than postal).
Greener: Traditional postal services emit 492 million tons (megatons) of CO2 emissions per year. Yuck! The hundreds of thousands of trucks and plane trips that are made directly impact and harm our environment. By using pre-existing travel plans, P2P shipping has practically no net carbon dioxide output.
Cheaper: At ManyShip, we have seen decrease in the prices of shipping by anywhere from 20-75% internationally when weighted for comparable travel times. Locally, instead of paying a courier $75+ to take a package from San Francisco to San Jose, you can find an individual who has a preexisting travel route between the cities and pay a fraction of that price anywhere from 12-48 times faster than USPS for example.
Simpler: No more stamps, filling out numerous forms at post offices, waiting for delays in long lines, and trying to figure out how much it will cost to send your things to Destination X in Y number of days. Technology and peer to peer methods streamline this process.
Earn money: People who travel with extra space that carry goods earn money and rewards. People make anywhere from $5 dollars locally to $100+ internationally depending on the necessity of the sender and items being sent. The model creates a strong incentive for people to carry, and helps to pay for a coffee, those horrid bag fees from the airlines, part of your ticket, or can help you put some money in the bank.
Make connections: Want to meet great people in your local community or across the world. Travelers have constantly reported making great connections with the people they carry for. This is a legitimate benefit for those interested in expanding their personal network and relationship pool. A famous story from one of our ManyShip carriers is that he got an internship that led to a job offer from the individual he delivered to India.
Help others: You can make money, meet great new people, and in this process you are helping others! It is a win-win for everyone involved, and travelers are doing more than just providing a personal service, they are helping others.
In conclusion, senders are enabled to have a faster, greener, and more affordable shipping experience. Travelers earn money, help others, and make great new connections throughout the world. Now who wouldn’t want that?
What are the risks?
The biggest concern we hear on a weekly basis is how carriers prevent someone trying to ship illicit goods with them. In order to prevent these type of things from happening, peer to peer shipping platforms should have a strong foundation in safe, secure, and trustworthy processes. Unless an item such as an iPhone is in the original sealed case from the seller, carriers should inspect the goods to prevent anything illegal being transported. In order to better educate our users about the various processes we use at ManyShip, we list directly on our website the trust and safety measures we take to protect our users, senders and travelers alike. You can read about these practices on our ManyShip Trust page.
Where is the future of peer to peer shipping headed?
The future of peer to peer shipping holds great promise. Alternative methods of business and the sharing economy model championed by companies such as AirBnB for rooms and Lyft or UberX for rides have completely changed the way our society and economy will do business forever. At ManyShip our vision is to build the fastest, simplest and most inexpensive way of sending your things anywhere in the world while protecting the environment.
Now that you understand how the peer to peers shipping process works, give it a try on the ManyShip today.