Have Pickup Truck, Will Help Move, On-Demand

When Chad Wittman decided to move to the suburbs of Chicago, he was faced with the challenge of finding someone to move the contents of his small apartment. “I ended up saying, ‘I’m going to do this myself,’” Dolly’s co-founder and vice president Chad Wittman told PYMNTS in an interview.

With that decision made, Wittman loaded up his four-door sedan and hoped for the best on the highway, but he thought there had to be a better way to do this, with rideshares such as Uber and Lyft coming on the scene. He recalled thinking: There has to be someone around the corner with a pickup truck who would do the job for $50. That thought led to on-demand moving service Dolly.

In describing Dolly, Wittman said that the company’s tagline istruck and muscle, anytime you need it,” but he said that a lot of people simply refer to it as Uber for moving. The service is essentially gig workers in pickup trucks moving bulky furniture from Point A to Point B. It is an alternative to enlisting friends or renting a moving truck.

The Sharing Economy For Moving

To use the service, consumers can access an iPhone app, Android app or mobile version of the website. Dolly then asks for a couple of key pieces of information, such as when and where a consumer is moving before giving a price upfront. That was a key feature, Wittman said, as he was frustrated by traditional moving truck rental services that might tack on extra charges. With his service, however, the price remains the same, even if there is bad traffic or the movers finish early.

Consumers on Dolly are matched with a background-checked independent contractor who is rated and reviewed. And, when the movers do pick up their items, consumers can track their movers on a map. That is an important feature, as consumers want to have a sense of where their items are in the moving process. It is also a core differentiator that sets Dolly apart from more traditional offerings: “They don’t offer that at all,” he said.

Beyond consumers looking to move items to a new home, Dolly has seen some interesting use cases for his products. Some consumers use his service to have bulky items picked up from their home and delivered to a charity to be donated. It may seem like a counterintuitive concept, but consumers might have spent a lot of money on a couch. As a result, they might be willing to pay $20 to move it to be donated. “They’d rather see someone else take this [item] that they know has value, than just waste it,” Wittman said.

In addition, he noted that people have used a labor-only offering to rearrange furniture. Some jobs have been more unusual than others: One customer asks the company to move a harpsichord on a regular basis, for instance. Overall, the service is tapping into what consumers would ask their friends for help with when it comes to moving items.

Retail Use Cases For On-Demand Movers

For retailers, he sees Dolly as a delivery service. A big retailer might take three weeks to get consumers a couch, but only set up a delivery time the night before. They then might give a consumer a short delivery window, which just happens to be when they are at work. While that can be a frustrating consumer experience, Wittman said that inconvenience is understandable from a business perspective.

Retailers may have big trucks to send drivers to the warehouse to pick up items on their routes, but if one job takes a long time, it can impact the rest of the jobs. But the couch? It’s sitting in the warehouse ready to go. As a result, retailers or customers can have Dolly pick up the couch and deliver it at a convenient time. According to Wittman, “That’s how the customer wants it.”

When it comes to retailers, Wittman will work with small mom-and-pop shops, with little storefronts and a couple of couches, up to large big brand retailers. He did, however, note that views of delivery range for mom-and-pop shops: Some may feel that they make a margin on making the deliveries themselves, but others may want to have someone else manage the delivery because they see it as a headache. That use case comes to show that on-demand moving services don’t only have to help  consumers — they can help retailers solve their last-mile delivery challenges, too.