Via.Delivery, a startup platform offering the power of buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) to smaller retail and ecommerce businesses, has expanded beyond its Russian roots with a launch here that features 21,000+ pickup locations at pharmacies, convenience marts and grocery stores.
The Via.Delivery app has now gone live on Shopify, Magento, OpenCart and Ecwid, with other ecommerce platforms to follow, said co-founder and CEO Mitchell Nitikin. Merchants can connect to the platform via plugin or API. Nitikin said he can’t name the pickup locations partners, saying only they are major pharmacy and grocery chains.
A successful pilot of Via.Delivery in 2019 with 1,000-store Russian grocery chain X5 Retail Group led to expansion in Europe, and now to the U.S. Via.Delivery has a total of 64,000 pickup locations, operating in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Canada and the U.S.
“Now DTC brands are able to match Target and Walmart with a BOPIS option at checkout, from a broad network of pickup sites,” Nitikin said. “And it’s cheaper to ship to those locations vs. to home, by 20% to 30%, and sellers can offer customers shipping discounts.” He also said using Via.Delivery eliminates the threat of porch pirates snatching home deliveries, often by following the drivers.
Nitikin noted that high shipping costs are the number-one reason for shopping cart abandonment, representing up to 60% of consumers ditching. And sellers using Via.Delivery have reported a 34% conversion rate boost, while the pickup locations gain from increased foot traffic and incremental sales.
Customers opting for Via.Delivery at checkout can choose their pickup from a map of nearby locations, and receive standard notifications of their parcel’s journey. Pickup involves the requisite barcode or QR scan at the location, and packages can be held for up to five business days. Via.Delivery’s platform is synced with carrier networks, and it handles label generation and tracking. Shipping times range from 5-7 days but can be shorter if the delivery location is in proximity to the seller’s distribution or fulfillment center.
Parcels eligible for shipment using Via.Delivery are limited to boxes or polybags not exceeding dimensions of 108″ on any single side and 165″ in length plus girth, and weighing less than 50 lbs.
A venture outfit called Alchemist Accelerator found out about Via.Delivery’s success in Russia and Europe, and asked it join a startup accelerator program in San Francisco. The company, now based Menlo Park, CA, received a $2.1 million seed round this past spring.
“In Europe and Asia, alternate delivery locations at checkout are super well known, for instance, at grocery stores in France,” Nitikin said. “These shipments options represent up to 70% of ecommerce order volume, compared to 30% for residential deliveries. That’s what we’re bringing to the U.S.”
Both UPS and FedEx offer order pickup at tens of thousands of small retail locations and their own stores. But they are designed more as a consumer convenience option at checkout than a merchant solution, and don’t integrate with platforms like Shopify and Magento.