Picup shaking the courier industry with peer-to-peer shipment system


Picup shaking the courier industry with peer-to-peer shipment system

Over the past few years, peer-to-peer services such as Uber and Airbnb have emerged from the Silicon Valley, reshaping our relationship to transport and accommodation. These services provide a common framework where consumers can directly be in touch with service providers, thus reshaping their respective sectors toward more transparency and opening revenue-generating activities to millions of  their “partners”. One of the key pillars of these peer-to-peer models is the technology behind them that unlocks the potential for immediacy and decentralised operations.

Pillars of the peer to peer economy

Figure 1: Pillars of the peer to peer economy according to the Altimeter group, “The Collaborative Economy” (June 4, 2013)


South Africa was not left behind in this peer-to-peer economy boom and this year, it’s the turn of the courier industry to be shaken up by a local start-up called Picup. Picup is a Capetonian company that puts in touch customers and drivers for immediate local shipments. This service, which doesn’t know any competition yet in South Africa is made possible through an on-demand system developed by Methys. Methys utilised its mobile expertise on all platforms to develop the following components:



  • A WeChat application allowing users to share their collection and delivery details using geolocalisation capabilities in partnership with TomTom.
  • An On-demand system that allocates shipment enquiries to the closest available drivers and handles a complex pricing system that takes into account the modes of transport and peak times.
  • An Android application that displays shipment requests to the drivers and provide them with a navigation system toward their destination.
  • A Back-end website allowing Picup to manage their operations and monitor the training and background check of their certified drivers.

“At Methys we are always involved with unique projects that challenge our skill set. Picup is one of those project that really can change the landscape of on-demand delivery in South Africa. We are excited to be an integral part of this evolution and will continue to build on this amazing product with Picup.” Managing Director, Methys Digital, Grant Byron

After rolling out a successful 4-week Beta phase, both with private users and with the well-known online retailer Zandos, Picup is launching to the general public today. The service is available in exclusivity on the messaging platform WeChat for private deliveries.

“Technology is changing our lives. Customers value their time, they’re demanding immediacy, efficiency and simplicity and this is exactly what Picup aims to achieve by letting customers order a licensed, verified and fully trained professional driver directly from WeChat seamlessly – no paperwork, no confusion, no problem,” saysChief Picup Officer, Grant Isaacs.

One of the key success factors of peer-to-peer business models is that the implementation of the right technology allow them to grow faster than traditional business models as they have a decentralised structure and low overhead costs. Launching exclusively in Cape Town area, Picup has already recruited more than 150 part-time and full-time drivers. The company plans to soon expand to the rest of the country.

While we are launching Picup in the Cape Town area, there are plans to expand to other cities as the model is easily replicated and can be amended as we launch city by city,” saysChief Picup Officer, Grant Isaacs.

See more on Picup at www.picup.co.za