Delivery startup aids San Francisco small businesses

With nine days to go until Christmas, there's still a chance people can avoid the crowds at shopping malls and the post office.
December 16, 2013 8:41:04 PM PST
With nine days to go until Christmas, there's still a chance people can avoid the crowds at shopping malls and the post office. And it's thanks to a growing array of delivery services.

Last holiday season, it was Macy's and Best Buy; retailers promising delivery in one hour with a new service called eBay Now. A year later, eBay's expanded the service and competitors are cropping up. The latest a San Francisco startup called SixDoors.

"Companies were building the same day delivery but for big box retailers. And I wanted to do something that helps the small guys compete, on par with the big guys," said SixDoors Founder and CEO Pascal Levy-Garboua.

So, Levy-Garboua rounded up 60 locally owned stores in San Francisco and launched a delivery service for them.

People order with an iPhone app and set your delivery time, which can usually be within two hours. Something store owners couldn't pull off on their own.

"It's been able to really allow us to promote ourselves in a way that we haven't before," said Aldea Home Owner Johanna Bialkin.

Aldea Home is on Valencia Street in San Francisco and is the last stop before courier Thomas Boyer delivers a carload to a home across town. He's staying busy.

"Drop them off and maybe, 'poof,' check the app, there's another pickup I've got to go do," said Boyer.

Between now and Christmas, SixDoors delivery is free. It's a marketing investment they hope will pay off.

"We know that everybody's scrambling, everybody's busy and so we think that right now is a great time to use SixDoors,"said Levy-Garboua.

Not to be completely outdone, eBay Now is offering a temporary local treat for the holidays. Between now and the end of the year, they'll offer free same day delivery from a handful of merchants in San Francisco's Ferry Building.

"It's been great, lots of cheese moving around," said Cowgirl Creamery Cheesemonger Rose Owens.

The always-crowded Cowgirl Creamery says eBay Now is fast.

"I'll be on the phone with someone from eBay Now, and I will turn around and the representative will be right there," said Owens.

Like SixDoors, eBay Now's Ferry Building pick-ups are only for people in San Francisco. People like Lucy Counter, who got a little too busy and used SixDoors to get out of a jam.

"I hadn't left myself enough room to go out shopping, so it meant that I could do a whole bunch of Christmas shopping in about 20 minutes, which was perfect," she said.

In fact, Boyer says he's even been sent to deliver surprise gifts. Many more as Christmas draws near.

"Santa Claus is happy for the help, I'm sure," he said.


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