I don’t know anyone’s address. This makes sending Christmas cards and birthday gifts a bit harder than it needs to be. It’s particularly hard to send anything to my younger cousins, who are in their 20s and seem to move every three months. I’ve also got gifts I’d like to send to business contacts and colleagues, and sending it to their corporate headquarters isn’t ideal.
I’d like to be able to simply write an email address or a phone number on a package and have it delivered to the person wherever they are.
Here are some quick thoughts to get you rolling:
One method might start with the recipient. When the destination email address is scanned, it sends an email to the recipient (firstname.lastname@example.org) which alerts her that she’s got a package. It could include a photo of the package and who’s listed in the sender/return address (abrydon.com). The email includes a link to a secure form that allows her to type the address where she wants the package delivered. The postage is computed (along with a markup for this brokering service) and an email is sent to the sender requesting payment. Once the sender pays the postage (PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, ApplePay, etc) a label is printed and the package completes the last leg of the trip to Jane.
I’d also appreciate if this could work for phone numbers, so I can simple write a phone number on a package. Once the phone number is scanned, a text message would be sent to the recipient with a photo of their package, asking them for the destination address. If the number is a landline, the message would allow the recipient to respond with the destination address, or direct them to a URL (usps.gov/to/4155551259) where they could enter a temporary code then give their address.
Everything could get even easier after the first package. Once the sender’s sends their first package, their account can be set on ‘auto-send’, so future packages simply require a quick confirmation. Once a recipient receives their first package, the messages to them (email, text or phone) simply confirm a package is on the way to their last listed address and give them the option to update the destination.
You could also flip the entire order, sending the first messages to the sender to process payment before alerting the recipient.
There are definitely some unhappy paths the inventors you’ll need to think through. If the recipient’s email address or phone number is illegible, or the recipient doesn’t respond to the message with their address, the sender might need to pay for the package to be returned. If the sender’s email is illegible or the sender doesn’t pay for delivery, the recipient might need to be given the option to pay for delivery (ouch).
Oh yeah, security. You’ll need to solve all that. It seems unlikely that a sender would list a fake email or phone number, sacrificing the package in the hope that a random person pays the postage, but I’m sure there are a hundred other security issues that will come up. So please get on that.
You’ll probably need to get the U.S. Postal Service involved because of, you know, laws. To figure this out, it might make sense to look at the trials that Stamps.com and E-Stamp ran in with the USPS in 1999. Hey, Stamps.com is now worth billions, maybe their team (nudge, nudge) can make this happen. The original founders (Jim, Jeff, and Ari) might be able to point you in the right direction.
Lastly, I’d appreciate if you could have this all ready for next Christmas. I’ve got some gifts I’d like to send.