(Photo by Flickr user Anne Worner, used under a Creative Commons license)
Tahur in Bangladesh wants an iPhone 7. If I happened to be traveling in that direction I could pick it up for him, and he’d pay me for in-person delivery. See, for Tahur that’d still be cheaper than trying to buy an iPhone 7 in Bangladesh, and on my end I’d make a little travel cash.
I’m not headed to Bangladesh (at the moment), but I know Tahur wants to buy an iPhone 7 because I saw his solicitation on Airposted — a new peer-to-peer international shipping platform.
The concept is this: A platform to connect a buyer who is looking to obtain something from another part of the world (that they can’t get or is too expensive to get shipped traditionally) with a traveler who is already headed in that direction (and willing to pick said item up for a negotiable fee). Airposted gets a 5 percent service fee on all transactions.
“Airposted is on a mission to make the world smaller by enabling buyers to shop for goods from anywhere in the world and have it delivered to them by a traveler who is already heading their way,” the website proudly declares.
Airposted, which launched a few weeks ago, is a new project for Raisa Rahman, whose day job is in marketing at the Paul Singh-founded coworking spot Brickyard. Rahman founded Airposted about four months ago with her cousin and cousin’s friend. The three have experienced the difficulties of international shipping first-hand, and felt as though a peer-to-peer model could provide an answer.
“It’s working so well in other areas,” Rahman told Technical.ly, citing ridesharing services, homesharing services and more. Why not shipping?
It’s an interesting theory — though not without its challenges.
One that comes to mind immediately: How does the platform deal with illegal substances? Rahman told Technical.ly the primary deterrent is common sense — as the traveler, you’d be the one on the hook for transporting anything you shouldn’t. “You as a traveler should know better,” she said.
And yet, the international drug trade continues to exist, indicating that transporting illegal substances across borders is potentially more a matter of price point than anything else.
But Rahman really believes that a peer-to-peer model is what’s missing from the world of shipping. “I definitely see this being a thing for the future,” she said, indicating that she hopes Airposted will lead the charge. And despite how new this is, the company has already seen its first transaction — a U.S.-based buyer looking for a specific type of soap from Greece.
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