How to Create a Local Delivery Service (+ Top Apps)

local delivery

One post-pandemic shopping trend is increased support for small and local businesses, with more than half of consumers specifically seeking out local, independently owned businesses. 

Offering local delivery is a great way to connect with these customers, drive sales, and provide a great customer experience. 

You may be wondering how to set up a local delivery service, or if local delivery is right for your business. Below, we’ll take you through the ins and outs and how to get started with your own local delivery service.

What is local delivery service?

Local delivery service allows customers to buy your products online and have you deliver them straight to their doorstep. Local delivery serves as an alternative to shipping with a carrier, in-store shopping, or in-store pickup by offering you a way to deliver directly to customers.

It has been particularly impactful for merchants and customers alike in a world where shipping carriers are experiencing increased delays and in-store shopping still carries risk.

Best couriers and local delivery services

Here are five start ups and legacy logistics companies offering same day, last-mile delivery services:

  • Roadie: A UPS company offering same-day, next-day, or scheduled deliveries. You can deliver same-day delivery up to 100 miles (distance to destination).
  • FedEx: This legacy shipping company also offers same day delivery available in all 50 states.
  • Dropoff: This courier operates in 58 cities nationwide, with guaranteed on-time delivery and real-time tracking for retailers.
  • TaskRabbit: Hire one-time contractors to pick-up and deliver packages to customers in your local area.
  • Dolly: This startup delivers to households across 70% of urban America, getting deliveries out the door in as little as 90 minutes.

Many cities also have local courier services you can partner with. For example, if you have a store in Los Angeles, you can partner with many different services, like DeliverLA or A-1 Courier. 

How to start a local delivery service

  1. Decide where you’ll deliver from
  2. Determine your delivery zone
  3. Figure out your delivery fee
  4. Determine when you’ll deliver orders
  5. Establish how you’ll deliver orders
  6. Work out who will make local deliveries
  7. Promote on-demand local delivery to nearby customers
  8. Implement complementary pick up options 

Decide where you’ll deliver from

Some online store owners also operate brick-and-mortar locations, while others have no storefront and rely on an online-only operation. Consider which of your stores will offer a local delivery option and if you will have enough staff to deliver from multiple locations. 

Determine your delivery zone

Once you know where you’re delivering from, it’s time to figure out where you’re delivering to. You can be very specific about which areas you do and do not deliver to. 

Define multiple delivery zones and use a list of ZIP/postal codes to determine how far you’ll travel to deliver orders. Or simply set a radius around each location to identify your delivery areas, but keep in mind, this gives you less jurisdiction over specific areas and neighborhoods.

Figure out your delivery fee

While customers expect free shipping, it’s not always feasible to offer, since you may need to cover related costs like gas or a delivery person. There are two key factors to consider here: your delivery price and your minimum cart value. 

  • You can choose to offer only local delivery for orders above a certain value, which also directly increases average order value (AOV). This strategy works well if you offer local delivery for free or at a low cost. 
  • For orders within your delivery zone, you can also set a fixed local delivery price without introducing a cart value minimum. If you want to make local delivery more attractive to your customers, you can set a lower price for shorter distances and a higher price for longer distances. 

Depending on how far you have to travel to deliver orders, you may want to charge more for local delivery. The bigger your delivery area, the more you may want to charge.

💡 PRO TIP: It’s easy to set up local delivery in your Shopify store. You can create both local delivery rates and pickup in-store rates to differentiate between the two options.

Determine when you’ll deliver orders

One of the benefits of local delivery is that customers can receive their orders more quickly. But this depends on how often you plan to go out on delivery. 

If you’re delivering locally and can’t do it every day or as orders come in, define specific delivery days or times. Make sure you communicate this with your customers before, during, and after their purchase. 

Some options to consider are same-day delivery, next-day delivery, or two-to-three-day delivery. Anything longer may not make sense for the local delivery shopper. 

Establish how you’ll deliver orders

There are lots of ways to deliver orders, and it will mostly depend on your location and delivery zone. While motor vehicles may be the first method that comes to mind, you can also fulfill local delivery orders by bike or on foot, which could be faster in some areas, depending on traffic. 

If you’re short-staffed or interested in using third-party services, you could sign up for apps like Postmates. These can come in handy when you’re experiencing high volumes or want to get in front of new potential customers. This also takes the actual delivery process off your plate, which makes it easier to execute. However, it comes with extra fees. 

Unify your inventory management with Shopify

Only Shopify POS helps you manage warehouse and retail store inventory from the same back office. Shopify automatically syncs stock quantities as you receive, sell, return, or exchange products online or in store—no manual reconciling necessary.

Work out who will make local deliveries

Again, you can deliver the orders yourself, use existing or newly hired staff, or take advantage of a third-party delivery partner—or a combination of any of the three. Whoever the delivery driver may be, it’s important to remember they’re a part of the customer experience. So even if they don’t work for you, they are still an extension of your brand. 

💡 PRO TIP: The Local Delivery feature within Shopify is a set of flexible tools that allow businesses to offer a customizable local delivery service at checkout. Business owners can define delivery zones and multiple pricing conditions for each zone, manage and prepare orders for delivery, offer real-time tracking to customers, and create optimized delivery routes for drivers using the Shopify Local Delivery app.

You’ll also need to consider what happens if the customer isn’t available at the time of drop off. Sometimes, it’s as simple as leaving the package outside the front door or in the mailbox. Other times, that’s not possible. 

Ask the customer for a phone number, and ensure drivers have it handy so they can contact the customer under these circumstances. It’s also a good idea to ask the customer for delivery instructions at checkout. That way, they can let you know whether it’s OK to leave the order at the door. 

In the case of Great Lakes Brewery, customers need to show photo identification to prove they’re of legal drinking age before receiving their order.

local delivery service example

Have a backup plan in place and be prepared to offer replacement products. Be generous in your return policy in these cases and offer free shipping or returns pickup if possible—as well as free delivery for any replacement items. 

Promote on-demand local delivery to nearby customers

First and foremost, you’ll want to put local delivery information on your website. At launch, you might use a pop-up, banner, or marquee to share information with your customers.

It’s also a good idea to put it on your shipping policy and checkout pages. Run free shipping campaigns or flash sales and combine the local delivery message to drive awareness and conversions. 

There are ways to promote your local delivery options on your website too: 

  • Social media. Post to your organic channels about local delivery, and complement that with paid ads targeting the area where you’re offering the service. 
  • Email marketing. Segment your list and let local customers know about the new option. Consider incentivizing with a coupon code for their first local delivery order. 
  • Search engine marketing. Chances are, customers in your area are searching for “local delivery near me.” Optimize for local SEO to show up in Google search results. 
  • Retargeted ads. Send campaigns to past and current customers or site visitors. Let them know that local delivery is new and they can take advantage of it today.

There are also traditional tactics that don’t necessarily require digital marketing. Merchants can use their understanding of the local community and events to get involved and market to the local customer base. Post flyers in community hot spots and consider collaborating with other local businesses.

Implement complementary pick up options 

While local delivery is great for nearby customers, you don’t want to isolate customers who reside outside your local delivery zone. Carrier shipping services can supplement and even handle some of your local delivery needs for you. 

Options like curbside pickup can be helpful for local customers in particular. If customers outside of your local delivery radius want online orders fast and expedited shipping isn’t an option or is too expensive, you can offer curbside pickup as an alternative. 

White Rock Soap Gallery has five Texas-based retail stores, along with a significant ecommerce side of the business. It offers local delivery from its retail locations in addition to curbside, shipping, and other options. 

promotion for local delivery

Curbside pickup can work even if you don’t have a physical storefront of your own. Turn your warehouse into a pickup location, launch a pop-up local pickup spot, or partner with another local business to leverage their space. Local delivery doesn’t have to compete with other shipping strategies—it can support them.

What are the benefits of local delivery service?

With local delivery service, businesses can offer thoughtful shopping experiences for their local customers and help generate online sales and revenue. 

Here are some of the ways delivering locally with Shopify can help businesses connect with customers nearby and carve a place for themselves within their community. 

Build a connection with the local community

Making it easier for customers to shop locally is a great way to differentiate your brand, attract new customers, and drive sales. It’s also a powerful way to continue to connect with your existing loyal local customers. Not to mention, adding local delivery service can help you attract new customers to your community. 

Improve the delivery experience 

Shipping delays are a natural part of the gig. Shipping costs can also be unpredictable and are a common reason why many customers abandon their shopping carts. 

Delivering orders directly to local customers is a way around delays and shipping costs. By delivering the product themselves, merchants can better control the process without relying on shipping carriers.

Increase sales

Data from Shopify shows that online shoppers spend 23% more and have a 25% higher cart size when convenient ordering options like local pickup and local delivery are offered by independent retailers. 

Furthermore, online shoppers who chose local pickup or on-demand delivery during checkout had a 13% and 19% higher conversion rate than those who selected shipping at checkout. 

You can also increase your average order value by charging for your local delivery service. With Shopify Local Delivery, you have the flexibility to create multiple delivery zones with multiple pricing conditions for each zone.

Boost sales with local delivery on Shopify

Giving customers the choice of how and when to receive their orders removes barriers to completing the purchase, which in turn boosts your bottom line. It also gives you a chance to plug into a community, driving customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

When it comes to adding local delivery as an option to your online store, you have to figure out the logistics in a way that serves your small business goals now and is sustainable to take your business into the future.

Unify your inventory management with Shopify

Only Shopify POS helps you manage warehouse and retail store inventory from the same back office. Shopify automatically syncs stock quantities as you receive, sell, return, or exchange products online or in store—no manual reconciling necessary.

Local delivery FAQ

What is a local delivery system?

A local delivery system is a logistics system that facilitates the delivery of goods within a specific geographical area. Local businesses use it to provide fast and reliable delivery services to their customers.

What is the cheapest delivery courier?

USPS is often the cheapest delivery courier. But if you want to deliver locally, and do it cheap, hire your own delivery person.

How do I find out if my city has a local delivery service?

You can check local business directories, such as Yelp, to see if there are any delivery services in your city.

How do I offer local delivery?

You can hire delivery drivers and offer the option to deliver products to customers within a certain mile range to your store. This is an ideal option for stores that sell larger products, like furniture and appliances, but it can be a convenient option even for smaller purchases.