One-hour delivery is the name of the game for Postmates, a San Francisco-based startup that uses mobile technology to match customers with errand-runners. The company offers fast delivery of takeout meals, groceries, office supplies, toys, and other goods to big-city residents in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
Postmates delivers from local markets and shops as well as major retail and dining chains. The options vary by city and zip code. In Austin, for example, Postmates delivers from Torchy’s Tacos, P. Terry’s Burger Stand, and Le Café Crépe, along with H-E-B grocery stores, Walgreens and dozens of other outlets. In Boston, Felcaro Pizzeria and Kane’s Handcrafted Donuts are on the Postmates menu.
In each city, customers can shop the Postmates General Store, a clickable menu of snacks, household basics, over the counter medicines, personal care items, school and office supplies, and groceries.
Postmates conducts background checks on all delivery people and sends customers a digital photo of their delivery person when an order is placed. As of December 2015, Postmates has a Better Business Bureau rating of B+.
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Late-night delivery is a possibility, depending on your location and the hours of the business you order from. The Postmates General Store offers delivery in Boston until 2:30 A.M. and in Austin until 4 a.m.—a big help if you need Tylenol and Gatorade to cope with a middle-of-the-night illness.
Most stores and restaurants served by Postmates have a menu, but you may also be able to request custom items. You can also order items for delivery in other cities where Postmates operates, a helpful option for adult children who want to send a parent a hot meal, groceries, or personal care supplies.
I wasn’t able to combine deliveries from different shops, and when I navigated away from the general store to 7-Eleven’s menu, I lost the general store items in my shopping cart. It appears that users need to complete their order from one shop before moving on to the next shop or restaurant.
Also, delivery areas in some cities don’t yet extend to outlying neighborhoods. When I entered my Austin delivery address, I found that I was outside the local service area. The same was true for a relative’s location on the edge of San Antonio.
Customers are assigned a delivery person for each order; as of this writing, customers can’t request a particular contractor.
Postmates charges a 9% service fee on all orders. Delivery fees start at $4.99 and may be higher depending on distance from pickup to drop-off and customer demand at the time you order. (Deliveries during especially busy times may be subject to higher “blitz pricing” rates). You can tip your delivery person through the app.
People who need something right away, whether that’s dinner, groceries, or personal care items from the drug store; caregivers who don’t have time to cook lunch or dinner; adult children who live too far away to help out with errands in a pinch.