Here’s all you need to know about WeChat’s new on-demand courier startup Picup


At the Picup launch last night, WeChat wanted the guest to walk home knowing three things: that Picup is going to revolutionarise the on-demand delivery space; it’s a services that creates jobs; and that WeChat is not just an instant messaging app.

Talking to the drivers, creating jobs appears to be something that Picup is already succeeding at. In an Uber-like fashion, the revenue split is 70% for the driver and 30% for Picup. This is great news for the local economy and also the tech space, as contributions from the tech industry to the economy could help attract government to play a more important role in aiding startups and tech entrepreneurs.

As of today, Picup is officially available on WeChat. It works is similar to Uber in having a distributed team of drivers who wait wherever they are and then choose to accept pick-up or delivery requests.

For now, the service is operating around the Cape Town CBD where the demand is currently at its highest. Picup boasts a team of 167 drivers, ranging from teens to 71-year olds with bicycles, cars, vans and so on.

Signing up to become a driver is an easy process that involves background check and uploading information on ThisIsMe — a novelty in itself.


“The biggest challenge right now is to get more scooters and bicycles on the road, I would say about 80% are cars,” Grants Isaacs, the chief Picup officer, tells Ventureburn.

To address this issue Picup has partnered with Scully scooters, which trains people from previously disadvantaged communities, gets them scooter licences and makes them Picup agents. Isaacs says that this vendor programmes is one of the things Picup is really proud of.

Read more: WeChat to launch on-demand delivery service Picup this week


How does it work for the users? Well, it involves a simple process of registering on WeChat with Picup. Requesting Picup, users must enter collection and delivery address, provide information about the product being picked up, thus choosing the mode of transport, providing information enabling Picup to pick the parcel faster. Picup keeps the users updated about the whereabouts of their parcel. And the last step of this process if the debiting of the cost, either from your bank card or WeChat e-wallet. Users get an email with the invoice.

The base fare for the parcel delivery is R40. This does not sound cheap at all but considering the convenience of it, it’s suddenly not that expensive.

Isaacs also made it clear in his speech that Picup has no desire to disrupt the delivery service space, but rather it is here to revolutionise it; aiding it and making it far more efficient. Of course it’s going up against the likes of WumDrop which has been offering a similar service for about a year.

Asked about why the service is exclusive to WeChat, Isaacs said that the ecosystem offers the company incredible insight about the market and has been guiding and advising them through the process of setting up.

Brett Loubser, who’s the head of WeChat Africa, said that WeChat’s involvement and interest in Picup is due to the fact that it’s simply mind-blowing that people can get parcels delivered within a short timespan of 15 minutes.

In regards to getting into South African ecommerce, Isaacs tells us: “We need to move quickly into the ecommerce space if we are going to drive volume, and WeChat understands that. That is where we are going to next.” The plan for the future is that Picup will be a plug-in to an ecommerce site and be easily accessible that way.

One of the Picup limitations which Isaacs admitted is that Picup can only do one pick up per user. What the chief Picup officer really wants is to allow organisations and companies to be able to send multiple parcels at once.

At the end of the launch, two things were clear. Picup is a service that has in a short space of time created jobs and that WeChat is not just an instant messaging app. The third, that Picup is going to revolutionarise the on-demand delivery space remains to be seen, but from the launch, how it has work so far, this could too be clear soon enough or not.



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