Once upon a time I was working with a tech start-up, similar to an Uber Eats app.
At the time the app was largely based around a SHIFT work model.
Stores could access the app to create SHIFTS that Couriers could apply to and the stores would confirm the contractor.
At the time I was hired, the company wanted to move towards an Uber model; rather than SHIFTS, Couriers would "roam" in a region and wait for individual orders to be assigned to them.
Within my first week the puzzle put to me by the CEO was:
“Get the drivers off Shifts and onto Roaming”.
Initial impressions were ‘easier said than done’... but I do like a challenge.
A few questions first…
What's the timeframe?
(It’s always asap).
Do we have any budget?
Do we have any flexibility with the app or how orders are assigned?
No budget. No tech. (No support). Immediate timeframe.
In effect what I was being asked was to redesign a business model and manage a culture shift, all while retaining the current levels of service, attraction and engagement.
Whatever result I delivered would have to accommodate over 5,000 existing Couriers, be scalable and sustainable.
Pause for a moment...
Given the conditions, if this were you, what solution would you come up with? If you chose to outsource to a consultancy, what time frame/budget would you allow?
Here’s what I came up with the following day...
* * * * *
Imagine a Pie.
The Pie is worth $Z.
Any Courier to deliver X amount of deliveries on ROAMING within Y days, wins the Pie.
What I devised was an incentive focused on rewarding loyalty; by completing deliveries, Couriers would earn their standard fee and each order would count towards the greater prize of winning the Pie.
I felt it was critical to employ ethical treatment toward our contractors and that a healthy relationship would ensure a sustainable service and address ‘courier churn’.
For context, an international competitor, had recently gone out of business during a wage scandal, while other competitors were being vilified for contractor exploitation - this issue is still pervasive, with similar services all tainted with the same ‘smell’.
Pandemics exacerbated this issue two-fold:
Delivery became a priority for Stores.
Travel-bans created a static resource of Couriers.
With demand for home delivery rising,
services were/are/will be, competing for consumer and user loyalty.
Increasing the delivery rate is neither scalable nor cost effective.
An effective incentive should entice Couriers to switch to ROAMING, be reasonable enough to keep them there, reward them for committing to ‘the risk’ and cultivate loyalty to the brand.
But there was no budget, right?
Like all algorithms, the magic is in the math.
Employing basic analytics you could assess the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ ie: total deliveries within a set period vs. number of Couriers live on the network.
This ratio would establish your X, Y and $Z.
Promoting via social media and word of mouth, the more Couriers you attract to ROAMING, the more competition you create for the Pie, the less likely any one Courier will achieve X deliveries within Y period.
Theoretically, $Z could be $100 or $1,000, with the right ratio, you would seldom ever pay it out: it was ostensibly, an adapted gambling algorithm.
If a Courier did win the Pie, it becomes the perfect promotional incentive;
cheaper and more cost effective than a blanket increase in delivery rate.
You cultivate positive word of mouth, fellow Couriers prove ‘it ‘can be done, this attracts more Couriers to your service, creating more competition for the next Pie - as deliveries and Couriers increase, scale the size of the Pie accordingly.
Learning they will be rewarded for their loyalty, Couriers prioritise your deliveries over competing apps, completing more of your deliveries on time.
You collectively achieve greater Store, Courier, Consumer satisfaction and proactively cultivate an ethical relationship with the public, all for meagre expense.
No tech changes.
Distinct point of difference.
Maintains current service.
Engenders contractor loyalty.