A company sees great potential in luxury with the battle for customer service increasingly fought in the last mile.
Dallas-based on-demand delivery provider Pickup is helping brands looking to extend white-glove service from store to customer doors as it sees broad avenue for growth in last-mile handling for goods valuable.
“It’s hand in hand in these cases. It’s not even a choice door or room; it’s the delivery person who handles those goods directly,” Pickup CEO Brian Kava said of premium service in the age of e-commerce.
Pickup has made a name for itself since its founding in 2014, focusing on delivering large, bulky items after founder Brenda Stoner had the difficult task of figuring out how to buy outdoor furniture at Costco at home. . Pickup now has over 90 cities in its service area and boasts an punctuality percentage in the range of 85 to 90.
The company’s delivery driver network uses its digital platform to find jobs and currently has around 1,200 drivers. About 700 of these drivers have a regular order schedule that they manage.
About a year ago, Pickup expanded into the high-value goods segment, offering premium service. Kava said he has become a fast mover for the company.
“It’s really become a high-growth segment,” said Kava, who was selected for the company’s No. 1 spot in February after serving as director of sales and marketing at Pickup.
Pickup offers a great value delivery service in handbags, working with a manufacturer, Kava, which is currently in talks to expand into apparel through the same delivery experience.
The CEO was unable to release the name of the manufacturer, due to a nondisclosure agreement, but described the company as operating in luxury bags and leather goods. Talks to expand into apparel would relate to one of the company’s sister brands within the parent company’s portfolio.
The service is currently in two markets, with talks to add five or six in the next quarter.
“It’s really starting to get carried away. It’s a different set of customers for those products and frankly I would say that’s something that recessions, COVID circumstances don’t impact those customers,” Kava said.
These are deliveries that include personalized gift wrap, rather than dented cardboard boxes, and black sedans instead of the typical delivery van.
“For the economy to work, it definitely has to be at a particular dollar value,” Kava said of when on-demand delivery makes fashion sense. “It’s something where if you’re spending $10,000 on a handbag, or you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on different luxury clothes, then you’re not as worried. It’s not always a cost pass-through to the customer, but it’s for the manufacturer to look for what guarantees the greatest satisfaction from that customer experience.
While luxury represents a unique specialization in how the delivery experience is handled, Pickup has always focused on presenting its delivery as an extension of a retailer or manufacturer’s brand. That means not driving a delivery vehicle onto a customer’s lawn, dropping a half-torn box on the doorstep, or scuffing floors while putting furniture in a room.
As online orders increase, expectations for service and delivery reliability will only grow, Kava pointed out.
“Where [companies] what’s missing is the very last impression of the brand,” Kava said. “If this is buttoned up, given what is delivered, it will ultimately impact that customer as a long-term customer.”
Pickup raised a $15 million Series B round last March, which was led by NewRoad Capital Partners, and Kava believed a Series C could be on the horizon for early 2023, which will help drive a new geographic expansion, including international and potential acquisitions, as more companies focus on what branding looks like in the last mile.
“People who continue to be successful will have to be customer-obsessed,” Kava said, adding, “At that final destination, what is that experience?”