A Delivery biker looking over their shoulder.
With a vehicle, technology, resourcefulness, a solid work ethic and unmatched reliability, you may have the makings of a local delivery business. — Getty Images/ Tempura

From streaming services to ride-sharing, we live in an on-demand world where instant gratification at one's fingertips has become the norm. Delivery services are an extension of this cultural phenomenon and present a wide array of opportunities for those interested in carving out a space for themselves catering to the cravings, whims and needs of others.

With a vehicle, technology, resourcefulness, a solid work ethic and unmatched reliability, you can have the makings of a local delivery business. To get the wheels turning, here are 10 ideas that align with today’s top trends and interests.

Courier service

Couriers pick up and deliver packages with a level of service and speed that the postal system doesn’t have. That’s why couriers can command a significant premium for their different levels of service, which typically include options for standard service, same-day service and overnight delivery. It may sound simplistic, but there is a great need for local delivery options, especially as online shopping continues to explode and businesses want to get their orders into customers’ hands. Businesses also need the materials needed to operate smoothly and successfully, which can mean outsourcing frequent runs to couriers.

To start, you will need education in the most efficient and reliable ways to deliver everything from important documents to larger packages wherever they need to go. Then, invest in the right vehicle to get them there. With reliability as a key selling point, it’s essential to be equipped with tracking software that allows customers to see where their packages are in real-time and closes the cycle with proof of delivery.

Gift delivery

There is never a shortage of occasions when a gift is needed, whether it be for a birthday, graduation, wedding or just because. Although it’s a nearly $15 billion industry, many gift-givers struggle to find the time or creativity to come up with that special gift idea, sometimes making gift-giving a stressful and often last-minute task. Add to that the complexities of COVID, and you may think there has never been a better time to start a gift delivery service that eliminates the guesswork and shopping trips for the gifting-challenged.

Keeping an inventory of and designing occasion-specific gift baskets filled with unique and special finds, then charging a mark-up for goods and services can be one approach. Another option is to develop relationships with and support local businesses that have a gift-worthy selection, shop their merchandise for your clients’ needs, then charge a premium for your shopping and delivery.

Laundry and dry cleaning delivery

The on-demand laundry service sector is experiencing explosive growth. In today’s hectic world, outsourcing laundry is a luxury many families are willing to pay for. It’s also a service that attracts commercial businesses, including restaurants, hotels, hospitals, salons and spas. Create a point-of-difference by taking an eco-friendly approach to your business and marketing its many benefits to the customer and environment.

You can start small at home by using your own laundry machines. You can also supplement with additional machines if you have the room. Or, you can rent commercial space and invest in the equipment needed to operate a laundry facility. Buying into a franchise with name recognition like Tide Cleaners may be worth consideration as well. Having an online destination or developing an app where customers can schedule pick-ups and deliveries will help you market and manage your business as well as simplify the payment process.

Furniture delivery and assembly

Furniture shopping is a sport for those obsessed with home decor. It can be fun and exciting until the shopper realizes the logistics involved in getting purchases home and assembled; this is made even more complicated by truck driver shortages and, thus, rampant delivery delays. In an on-demand world where everyone wants things done “yesterday,” there is an opportunity to facilitate this process by entering the furniture delivery space.

You can contract with local businesses to be the delivery provider of choice, or market yourself to the millions of people making furniture purchases via Craig’s List or social media marketplaces, who may not have a plan for getting items like desks, beds, tables or dressers from point A to point B. You’ll need the right truck for the scope of your business and the right class of license to operate it. If you want to upsell premium services like assembly, be prepared with a stocked tool kit and make sure to know your way around a set of instructions, or as is often the case, the lack thereof.

Medical equipment/pharmacy delivery

It is estimated that nearly four million Americans are mostly or completely housebound, often due to health-related circumstances. It’s a sobering statistic that signals a great need for access to essential medical supplies and prescriptions. For those who want to dedicate themselves professionally to serving the critical needs of others, medical delivery can be both rewarding and profitable.

Services can vary, like transporting specimens to labs to delivering oxygen machines, walking aids or medicines. It is a highly regulated service, with OSHA and Department of Transportation guidelines that must be adhered to. A certification course is a good way to develop the necessary skills and protocols to operate in the medical delivery space.

Having an online destination or developing an app where customers can schedule pick-ups and deliveries will help you market and manage your business as well as simplify the payment process.

Home improvement delivery

DIYers and home improvement professionals can attest to the endless need for materials, equipment and supplies. The time it takes to halt work for a Home Depot or Lowes run can be inefficient and inconvenient. If you know your way around a hardware store and have a truck that can easily transport machinery and supplies of all sizes in a pinch, being the conduit that helps get the job done can help make you the neighborhood go-to for projects of all sizes.

Develop relationships with the top local contractors and home improvement providers in your community and create a website or use an app where they can view the items and services you help secure. It’s also key to develop a strong social media presence where people can get a strong sense of the scope of your work and your professionalism. Set the wheels in motion by test driving your business solution with an app like Roadie.

Amazon delivery service partner

For those with entrepreneurial aspirations in the delivery space, Amazon has created a Delivery Service Partner program to help turn their dreams into a sustainable business. Participation in the program, requiring an initial investment as low as $10,000, allows you to hire and cultivate your own team of 40-100 employees with the expectation that you will run a fleet of 20-40 trucks dedicated to delivering Amazon orders.

Amazon qualifies prospective owners through a lengthy application process and is focused on finding candidates with leadership and management experience. Those selected are provided access to training along with Amazon’s proprietary tools, technology and many other helpful resources for success.

Grocery delivery

Many people lack the time or inclination to make regular supermarket runs. It can be a tedious and time-consuming task that some would rather outsource if they could, especially if their weekly rounds include multiple stores. This is a reason why platforms like Instacart and AmazonFresh have experienced explosive growth. What these platforms lack, however, is a personal approach and white glove experience that many people value. Many will happily pay extra for access to personal grocery shoppers who will cater to their needs and preferences.

If you can build a roster of regular customers by attracting busy, local professionals and parents with a customized approach to shopping for and delivering their groceries and essentials, this type of service may serve you well. Don’t know where to start? Online service Dumpling helps personal grocery shoppers get up and running with their own small business.

After hours delivery service

There are times when a person needs to get something somewhere quickly before or after regular business hours. It’s also not uncommon to need a grocery or pharmacy item at the most inconvenient time. For times like these, wouldn’t it be nice to know there is someone available to deliver at the touch of a button? If you’re an early bird or a night owl, that someone could be you.

Put that entrepreneurial spirit to work as the go-to when someone misses their window or just doesn’t have the energy or freedom (e.g., little kids at home) to get it done themselves. You can charge a premium for your service and market the competitiveness of your rates compared with heavy hitters, like FedEx.

[Read more: How This Teen Entrepreneur Learned to Roll With Changes and Persevere Through Challenges]

Pet food delivery

Pets are a part of approximately 70%, or 90.5 million households, in the U.S., accounting for nearly $45.5 billion in spending. From food to toys to pet care, pet owners are notorious for spoiling their furry family members and splurging on anything that helps ensure their well-being. In today’s busy world, they are also often willing to spend a little extra for convenience by limiting food runs to pet or grocery stores. For the pet-loving entrepreneur, there may be an opportunity to cater to pet owners in your area by creating and delivering meal plans designed around the trends driving the pet food market, including organic food, sustainable options and plant protein-derived menus.

Having a vehicle to accommodate your orders, storage space to house food in bulk, packaging materials (eco-friendly options could be a selling point) and an easy-to-use digital ordering platform are just a few of the essential upfront costs you’ll need to consider.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published December 01, 2021