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Death threats and tyre slashings: Delivery wars escalate as WantItNow launches

Friday, 12 October 2012 | By Cara Waters

Sisters Fiona Pearse and Emma Cronin withstood a death threat and having their car tyres slashed in the lead up to the launch of their three-hour delivery site WantItNow yesterday.


WantItNow offers access to three-hour and same-day delivery across 60 retailers, including The Iconic and StyleTread.


The two sisters inherited transport company Mail Call from their parents and came up with the idea for WantItNow after becoming frustrated at the restricted delivery options when shopping online.


"We were really frustrated at being online shoppers and shopping with convenience but not receiving our deliveries with that kind of convenience as well," Pearse says.


WantItNow has been operating with some retailers for a year and already accounts for 15% of the company's turnover, which Pearse puts at $30 million a year.


"We've been working with retailers for a couple of years and had a soft launch 12 months ago. We've seen the demand for three-hour delivery surge especially in the last three months," she says.


"There seems to be this move towards instant gratification and really the internet is supposed to be about convenience."


However, Pearse and Cronin say they have experienced the ugly side of the industry after inheriting the company from their parents, an issue their father warned them about before he passed away.


"Dad realised being women working in a transport company was going to be fairly confronting," Pearse says.


"We've seen a lot of bias over the last couple of years in regard to our age, we are a lot younger than the typical transport logistics manager, and we are certainly not male."


Pearse was forced to hire a bodyguard after receiving a death threat and having the tyres on her car slashed. However, she says the threats have not deterred her.


"We have used that bias and I think we have really garnered the energy from it to make sure we shake it up and do something a little different," she says.


The company's record delivery time is nine minutes across Sydney and it has also developed a world-first iPhone and smartphone 'Track n Trace' app that allow customers to track their purchases from the minute they order to when it is delivered to their home or office.


WantItNow already delivers in Sydney and Melbourne, recording 500 deliveries a day in Sydney, and is going to launch in Brisbane and Perth shortly.


The company is also reported to be in discussions with David Jones and Myer, although Pearse would not confirm this.


"There are a number of big name Australian retailers which we will announce in the next four weeks and they are from the bricks and mortar retailers," she says.


"It's a great way for Australian retailers to compete with international retailers through speed of delivery.


"We hope that everyone from the Australia Posts of the world, with their cards in your letterbox, to our competitors take note and look at what can be done when you listen to shoppers and their frustrations."


Pearse told SmartCompany she does not believe the $2 billion investment in parcel lockers announced yesterday by Australia Post represents a threat to WantItNow's model.


"It's a great spend but customers want the product in their hand," she says.


"I've got research that says only 2% of customers want to use a locker service."


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.