Forget Amazon and Diapers.com. A new breed of concierge services for desktop and mobile apps far outpaces these now-common doorstep delivery outfits to ferry things like beer and handpicked clothing -- even takeout from shops that don't normally deliver.
Right now, the trend is mostly locked to metropolitan cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. According to Yory Wurmser, a retail analyst at eMarketer, these areas have high populations of young, tech-savvy shoppers with more disposable income. They also harbor a young (and often temporary) labor force willing to fetch and deliver said goods.
If you live in one of the hotspot cities that breeds this brand of startup and you're willing to pay a little extra for convenience on top of the item's retail cost, check out some of our favorite delivery startups.
Delivery type: Grocery
How it works: Pick a grocery store from the site and build your shopping list. You can load up from the catalog of goods, or specify items that you know the store stocks, like bulk items or a certain cut of meat. Instacart delivers within time slots, like 5 to 6 p.m.
Delivery cost: $4 for 2-hour delivery; $6 for 1-hour (if you spend more than $35); $100 per year for deliveries over $35.
Pros: In addition to national chains like Safeway and Whole Foods, Instacart often sources from popular independent markets. Your shopper will call if there's an issue. You can also pick up groceries from the store without waiting in line.
Cons: Surge pricing means getting a delivery during prime-time dinner hours is going to cost you. It'll be cheaper to plan ahead. Instacart doesn't partner with every store you want. Some shoppers are more thorough than others.
Locations: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles, New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; the San Francisco Bay Area; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; Washington, D.C.
Delivery type: General, take-out
How it works: Request just about anything from any store in your city. Couriers will deliver cat food and Band-Aids from the pharmacy, food from that restaurant that doesn't deliver, and just about anything else so long as the shop is open. It powers Starbuck's new delivery service as well.
Delivery cost: You're looking at a minimum of $5 for each delivery, plus more if it's further. Postmates also tacks on a 9 percent service fee, and you're encouraged to tip your courier.
Pros: Courier service is 24 hours. If the menu is listed, ordering items is extremely easy.
Cons: When you add the delivery free and rush pricing, that $10 dinner can get extremely pricey. Desktop signup requires a Facebook account (it's more flexible on mobile). If couriers aren't available, you won't get what you want.
Locations: 14 states. Check for specific cities here.
Delivery type: Women's clothing
How it works: After filling out an extensive profile, a personal shopper sends you a box of 5 surprise items, which can include clothing, jewelry, scarves, bags, shoes and jackets. You won't be able to shop sales; the service fee is bundled into the items' full price.
Delivery cost: Free shipping both ways, but a $20 styling fee if you keep nothing.
Pros: Set your own price ranges, flexible shipments, penalty-free cancellation. You'll get 25 percent off the whole bundle if you keep all five items.
Cons: You can leave requests and style notes, but can't choose any specific items. Three days to check out online.
Delivery type: Men's clothing
How it works: Essentially Stich Fix for men, Bombfell's monthly clothing subscription service gets your height and weight, skin tone and body type. It also asks your favorite brands and style preferences, along with your overall budget. There are a few accessories, and suit pieces sold as separates. Bombfell emails a preview of the shipment 48 hours before sending the package.
Delivery cost: There's no delivery fee.
Pros: You can influence items in your shipment and ask for a new selection after viewing the preview email. 10 days to return items. No penalty to skip a month.
Cons: Fewer upfront options for high-end or flamboyant dressers. You need to print out your own shipping label for returns (versus included in the box).
Delivery type: Laundry and dry cleaning
How it works: Select a time slot for pickup and drop-off, then separate clothing into wash, dry cleaning or laundering (for men's button-down shirts). Your clean, folded clothes return to you the next day. Recurring order or one-off pickups.
Delivery cost: Free over $35 order, $4 fee if less than $35 order.
Pros: There's an option for unscheduled, emergency cleaning. You can leave clothes out for pickup if you're gone. Each order comes with a cookie. No tipping necessary.
Cons: $20 order minimum, no hand-wash option. 15-pound weight minimum for wash-and-fold orders. Won't accept all items that a local shop might.
Locations: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.
Delivery type: Alcohol and mixers
How it works: Select $25 worth of wine, beer, spirits or mixers to have delivered. Delivery times depend on the store you're routed to.
Delivery cost: None.
Pros: Reasonable prices, gift option, delivers in under an hour.
Cons: Limited selection of super-premium options, and MiniBar doesn't stock everything that the local supplier does. Can't choose which store you're routed to (but store selection is coming up). It'd be nice to choose additional snacks, like chips and nuts.
Locations: Austin, Texas; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago; Dallas; Jersey City, N.J.; Hoboken, N.J.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; Palm Beach, Fla.; San Francisco; Washington D.C. In addition, it's available in The Hamptons area of New York, Silicon Valley in California, and Westchester in New York.
Have any favorites of your own? Shout them out in the comments below!