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Shyp Shape - Click & Ship

We've seen deliveries by drone (Lakemaid Beer and, deliveries by Uber courier, same day delivery from stores including Macy's, delivery by 3-D Printer, and now this... DJK

Painless Shipping In a Few Easy Steps

Shyp, a new service operating in San Francisco, promises to take care of all the logistics involved in sending off packages, with the help of an app and couriers who patrol the city on bikes and in cars.

PACKAGING and shipping an item isn’t the worst task in the world, but it isn’t exactly fun, either.

Say you’re sending a gift to your grandmother. First, you have to find a box. Then you need tape, one of those household items that is almost never where you thought you’d put it. You might also need to weigh and measure the box, and research which shipper fits your budget and delivery preferences. Then you either have to go to the web to order a shipping label or hurry over to the post office to wait in line.


This complaint might once have sounded like the whine of a lazy, overprivileged fellow who can’t be bothered to ship a gift to nana. But technology has infinite capacity to obviate even the tiniest of life’s inconveniences. All you need now is an app and a few dollars.

Shyp, a new service operating in San Francisco, promises to take care of all the logistics involved in sending off packages. Just download the firm’s iPhone app and enter your payment information. Then snap a picture of your item, type where you’d like it sent and choose your delivery speed.

Other than alcohol, tobacco, firearms and hazardous materials, Shyp will ship any object under 50 pounds.

The picture is immediately routed to the phone of one of Shyp’s couriers, who patrol the city on bikes and in cars, waiting for the next order. The nearest courier glances at your photo to check if there’s room for your item; if so, the courier rushes over. In the 10 or 20 minutes it takes to get to you, you can chart the courier’s progress on a map in Shyp’s app. The courier shows up, collects your item and rushes it to Shyp’s warehouse. There, your item is packaged and sent off to its destination through the United States Postal Service, U.P.S. or FedEx, whichever is cheapest.
The price for this service? A $5 fee on top of the shipping charge.

When I first heard of Shyp, I thought it was a joke. It sounds like a parody of a Silicon Valley start-up; all the company is doing for you is putting your stuff in a box and dropping it in the mail.
But I was wrong. Shyp is magical. I used the service to send a few items last week, and I found it to be enchantingly simple and convenient. Shyp compressed about 10 to 15 minutes of busywork into a 30-second interaction with an app. The time saving alone was worth Shyp’s $5 fee, but the price looks even better when you consider that the company provides a box, tape and all packaging material.

A Shyp user can request a delivery by taking a picture of an item, entering into the app where it should be sent and choosing a delivery speed.
Other than alcohol, tobacco, firearms and hazardous materials, Shyp will ship any object under 50 pounds that can fit in a 30-inch square box. This includes fragile objects, which the company says it packs with special care — something you might never have bothered to do.
Shyp follows in the path of Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart and other local logistics services that use smartphones to connect workers and customers in a dense metropolis. Kevin Gibbon, the firm’s co-founder and chief executive, said he was considering expanding to places beyond San Francisco soon.

He might have to. In April, Uber started testing a courier service in Manhattan that offers local deliveries for a fee starting at $15. Mr. Gibbon said he didn’t consider Uber’s service or other local messenger services as direct competitors to Shyp.

The firm says it has shipped thousands of items during its first few months of operation. Though it won’t disclose its financial results, Shyp’s business model is alluring. In addition to the $5 fee, which Shyp waives for business customers, Shyp charges customers retail price for shipping — the same price you would have paid if you had gone to the post office, U.P.S. or FedEx yourself. But because it is a high-volume shipper, Shyp actually pays those services a discounted fee to send your package, and makes some revenue off the difference.

My one complaint is that shipping costs aren’t clear upfront. You learn the actual price of shipping your item only after the company has picked it up. The app does offer an estimate, but you need to weigh and measure your item first, and that defeats the hassle-free spirit.

I’d prefer that the app give a ballpark estimate based on the photo: Snap a picture and some algorithm or expert back at Shyp’s office will estimate a fee. In other words, I’m asking for a brain-dead-simple service to become even more brain-dead simple. I suspect someone in Silicon Valley will grant my wish.

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