The points of intersection between my day job life in the world of Silicon Valley technology and design and my night job here in wine are few and far between. But every once in a while the two collide in a spectacularly useful fashion.
As a User Experience designer by trade, nothing delights me more than when someone uses today’s (or even better, tomorrow’s) technology to solve a truly annoying problem in everyday life. The feeling of satisfaction we get from apps like Uber or Luxe are great examples of those “it’s about time someone came up with a better way” moments.
Well I just had another one of those moments thanks to a new app and service called Doorman. What problem are they solving? Let me show you:
To anyone used to ordering wine on the Internet, this will be a common sight. This is a photo of my front door after just four days away on vacation with my family. I don’t buy a lot of wine online, but I do get a lot shipped to me unsolicited.
UPS, FedEx, DHL and GSO — basically all domestic shippers of wine in the United States — are not allowed to leave alcohol without getting the signature of verified adult over the age of 21 years. No amount of cajoling, pre-authorization, or other shenanigans I have tried will convince them to leave my packages for me on my front steps. No, they need an adult to sign, and unfortunately, the only times they can drop by are during the hours that we are at work.
And so one of three things tends to happen with these wine shipments:
1. They manage to catch us at home once in a while when they do a late pass through the neighborhood.
2. They go through their three delivery attempts and I manage to get them to either hold the shipment for me to to pick up, or occasionally re-route to a FedEx Office location near my work.
3. After three or more attempts, they send the wine back to the shipper.
And then there’s GSO, which is so lame that they basically don’t re-attempt shipment or send you any notices that they have a package for you before eventually shipping it back to the sender.
Numbers two and three are horribly annoying and time consuming, and when wines end up getting sent back, I feel awful because it’s basically just wasting money of the wineries who send me wine samples.
But thanks to Doorman, the days of chasing down missed wine shipments are as ancient history as standing on the sidewalk for 30 minutes trying to hail a cab.
Doorman is blindingly simple and easy. You have your wine shipped to a Doorman address in your city that is staffed at all hours to receive packages. When the package arrives addressed to you at Doorman, you get an SMS letting you know. You pop open the app and schedule delivery at a time convenient to you, any night during the week up until midnight. You get a text message when your delivery is on the way, and another when they’ve arrived.
If you order wine (or anything really) a lot, you’re probably thinking exactly what I thought when I first heard of it. About damn time. Right?
I sent the Doorman folks the photo of my door above and asked them if I could try out the service, and they kindly hooked me up with some delivery credits so I could see just how much it would change my crazy wine-delivery-all-the-time life.
So let me tell you just how great it is: totally. And by totally, I mean really #$%&ing awesome.
Doorman was started, as many such brilliant companies were, by a guy who just finally got pissed off enough at missing and stolen e-commerce shipments to do something about it. Zander Adell had always lived in major cities, and like a lot of young technology executives, basically bought everything he needed online. After having a couple of his items stolen off his doorstep (an increasing problem even in my relatively quiet neighborhood in San Francisco) he decided there had to be a better way, and Doorman was born.
My new Doorman delivery address hasn’t fully percolated out to the entirety of the wine world, so I still occasionally get a missed delivery notice on my door, but I can gleefully say their days are numbered. Soon I will blissfully be scheduling every simple box of samples to arrive on my doorstep exactly when I want.
If you live in San Francisco (coming to other major cities soon) and you buy a lot of wine (or anything else online, for that matter) then I strongly suggest you give Doorman a try. It’s a killer app for the urban internet e-commerce economy, and the real future of package delivery.