Kinek offers secure prescription drop-off for online shoppers
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Anyone who has ever had a package stolen off the porch or come home to find a fifth missed-delivery notice on the door might appreciate the solution dreamed up by a start-up company out of New Brunswick, Canada.
Kinek, founded in 2009, is building a network of locations that online shoppers can use as a drop-off point, a place to send packages instead of risking that new dress or pricey gadget sitting outside for hours until someone gets home.
So far, the company has a network of more than 1,100 KinekPoints nationwide -- usually local businesses like pharmacies, flower shops and hardware stores -- that are willing to take deliveries and hold them until the recipients show up to collect the goods.
Med-Fast Pharmacy, a Beaver County company with 16 locations in Western Pennsylvania, was the first in the state to join the Kinek network in November.
After joining the site for free, Kinek members pick the KinekPoint closest to them and enter the business's address, rather than their own, in the checkout windows of online retailers. The service can be used at all sites, from Amazon to eBay.
Kinek users are notified of their package's delivery via the company's new mobile phone app, and the package is held securely at the KinekPoint for up to 30 days.
Some of the drop-off sites charge customers a pickup fee based on the package's weight; at other locations, like Med-Fast, the service is free.
The hope is, said Med-Fast Vice President Gino Cordisco, that the small inconvenience of signing for packages will be outweighed by increased foot traffic and additional sales, that will be driven as customers come into the pharmacies to pick up their packages. "It's a win-win for us," he said.
For its part, Kinek charges retailers a small fee for each package delivered.
Online retail is a lucrative business. Market research firm Forrester Research found that in 2011, Internet shoppers spent $266 billion. That number is predicted to rise to $327 billion by 2016, making up 9 percent of total retail sales.
Many large chains have begun to offer consumers the option to have orders shipped to nearby store locations. But many of the largest online retailers -- like Amazon, Newegg and Overstock-- have no physical stores. That's where Kinek gets most of its business, said Gareth Sudul, director of channel partner operations for the company.
So far in Western Pennsylvania, KinekPoints haven't exactly been hopping. Since Med-Fast began offering the service in November, just a few locations have had packages delivered.
In its Aliquippa location, Med-Fast's employees had not even heard of the service. The Med-Fast in Imperial has received two packages so far.
Nationwide, however, other KinekPoints have seen the kind of benefits that Mr. Cordisco hopes Kinek will eventually bring to Med-Fast.
Wellesley Island Building Supply in the town of Fineview in upstate New York received more than 1,300 packages in May, according to a store manager there. That has led to a more than 10 percent increase in sales, although the business has not spent any additional marketing money around the service.
The core of Kinek's business for now is coming through drop-off sites -- such as Wellesley Island Building Supply -- set up along the U.S.-Canadian border.
While he declined to release exact numbers, Mr. Sudul said the number of packages Kinek handles is growing by more than 12 percent each month.
First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 am