“TraDel “— Let’s revolutionize global shipping together!

This project was carried out as part of the TechLabs “Digital Shaper Program” in Dortmund (winter term 2021/22).

In a nutshell:

TraDel — Travel Delivery — is a non-commercial Crowd Shipping platform for private shipping connecting travelers who have some luggage space left to people who search for an affordable shipping option around the globe. Using available travel routes for private shipping can open new, more flexible, and cheaper shipping options while reducing emissions and allowing travelers to compensate for travel costs as well as doing something good. The website has a straightforward structure with a register and login function and the options to post a delivery request or offer and to search for available posts. Once a match is found, all shipping conditions, including price and date, are privately discussed between the users.

Introduction:

Many people leave their home countries temporarily or even permanently for studies abroad, as expats, or for other diverse social or economic reasons. The number of international migrants increased across the globe over the past decade, especially in Europe, Asia, and North America [1].

Figure 1: Number of international migrants across North America, Asia and Europe (©UN DESA 2021 [1])

Nowadays, in a highly globalized and digitalized world, it is easy to stay in contact with loved ones at home, but it is expensive or, in the case of less-developed countries, sometimes simply not possible at all to private ship packages globally. For example, private shipping of a simple package between 2 kg and 5 kg would cost between 8 € and 16 € from Germany to a destination inside the European Union [2], about 27 € to the UK or Switzerland, and 37 € to 45 € to the USA, China or another international destination [3]. However, prices for international shipping to Germany can substantially differ, especially for less developed countries with other currencies. Sending a 4 kg package from Nigeria to Germany would again, for example, cost about NGN 148.412 [4], which is about 323 € [5].

TraDel, “Travel Delivery”, is a non-commercial Crowd Shipping platform connecting people searching for a delivery option with travelers who have some luggage space left. The benefits of using available travel routes for private shipping are the opening of new shipping options which might be cheaper and more flexible than those offered by commercial logistic companies. Furthermore, emissions, pollution, and noise that would be caused by extra shipping routes can be reduced. Travelers delivering the package could make some extra money and thus, compensate parts of the travel costs and actually make somebodies day by helping deliver packages to their loved ones — tech for good!

Figure 2: TraDel — Header

The project aims to offer a platform that operates like a marketplace where people can post-delivery requests or travel offers. All shipping conditions, such as time, price, items, or legal requirements for customs, are then privately discussed and decided by the users. This is the key value of TraDel: in contrast to available shipping platforms, TraDel is strictly non-commercial, does not charge any additional fees for using the website, and has no restrictions for shipping destinations, price, or payment options. The only limitation is that the website can only be used for non-commercial items which do not violate any federal, national, or international law or any requirements of customs laws or other regulations that may apply as well as requirements by transport companies, e.g., airlines, regarding safety.

Methodology:

Our project team consisted of web developers and data scientists, but as the focus of the project was to create a Crowd Shipping platform, it did not necessarily require data acquisition and data analysis. Thus, we focussed on building a website with a basic, straightforward, clean design and structure using HTML, CSS, and javascript. Using the python knowledge, we created SQLite databases for storing user information such as name, address, and contact details and shipping information such as destination, package weight, and delivery date and connected those to the developed website using FastAPI. For editing and sharing codes, we used Visual Studio Code and GitHub.

For project management, we used a notion website created for the project, including available options for recording notes, editing texts for the website, and preparing and tracking the project roadmap and To-Dos. For sharing larger files, we used Google Drive. Additionally, the project channel on Slack was used for quick updates and discussions, weekly project meetings, as well as regular project updates and mentoring sessions with the TechLabs mentors.

Results:

The first version of the website starts with a short introduction and information on the project idea, the benefits, and the functionality and includes a short FAQ section. As intended, the structure and design were kept clear and simple using a single-page web design as well as plain colors.

Figure 3: TraDel — Benefits

For using TraDel, the users need to register and provide basic user information via the registration form. All user data are stored in the respective database. Afterward, the user can log in and post a delivery option again, providing basic information such as the start point, the shipping destination, and package weight. In this form, the user also needs to select if it is a delivery request (in the case of a package sender) or if they want to offer a delivery (as a traveler). These data are stored in a second database.

To connect the travelers with the package senders, the website also offers a search option, which is connected to the database. Using this function, all available offers and requests can be filtered, and — in case of a match — the contact details of the matching users should be found. All shipping conditions such as price, date, size, weight, and content of the package, as well as additional information such as customer information, are then privately exchanged, discussed, and decided by the users. Currently, the search function is available in the backend and will be fully integrated into the frontend in the next steps. In a later version of the website, the search function should then also be connected to a chat function so that all personal details and shipping information can be exchanged and discussed on the website itself.

Furthermore, a user rating system and user verification system (using the phone number, mail, or ID) should be implemented in a later version, as well. These functions ought to provide quality assurance and ought to prevent misuse of the platform. To increase the user experience, the website might, at a later stage, also provide further information on customs and legal regulations, which might apply as well as available shipping options and shipping costs from commercial logistic companies. The commercial costs might also function as a reference value for negotiating shipping prices on the website. Thereby, TraDel ought to provide people with the possibility to send packages to their friends and relatives in the most cost- and stress-efficient way.

GitHub repository:

Team members:

Web Development:

  • Paulinus Ayere Aghughu (paulynpen@gmail.com)
  • Hikmatullah Ahmadzai (hiko.a1919@gmail.com)

Data Science (Python):

  • Michael Majemite (michaelmajemite@gmail.com)
  • Paul Imhomoh (paulgeoph@gmail.com)
  • Taylan Yildiz (taylan.yildiz@tu-dortmund.de)
  • Nele Markert (n.markert@posteo.de)

Team mentors:

  • Miguel Krause, Data Science & Web Dev Mentor
  • Nils Jannasch, Web Dev Mentor
  • Tom Stein, Web Dev Mentor
  • Saumya Bhatt, UX Design Mentor

Sources:

[1] IOM (2022). World Migration Report 2022. https://worldmigrationreport.iom.int/wmr-2022-interactive/
[Accessed: April 05, 2022]

[2] European Commission (2022). Public tariffs on cross-border parcel delivery services. Year: 2021, Origin: Germany,
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/postal-services/parcel-delivery-eu/public-tariffs-cross-border-parcel-delivery-services_en
[Accessed: March 27, 2022]

[3] DHL (2022). Prices DHL Germany Paket International.
https://www.dhl.de/en/privatkunden/pakete-versenden/weltweit-versenden/paket.html
[Accessed: March 27, 2022]

[4] DHL (2022). Prices DHL Nigeria — Get a quote.
https://mydhl.express.dhl/ng/en/shipment.html#/rate-and-quote#delivery-options
[Accessed: April 03, 2022]

[5] finanzen.net (2022). Währungsrechner: Naira — Euro
https://www.finanzen.net/waehrungsrechner/naira_euro
[Accessed: April 03, 2022]

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