Omni, an on-demand rental company that offers everything from drones to drills, is doing the opposite of what most retail apps do: instead of delivery, it’s moving to pickup.
The startup, which is backed by executives at cryptocurrency company Ripple, announced on Tuesday a new in-store pickup service in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.
Omni partnered with more than 100 local small businesses across three markets to better connect its customers with high-quality rental items. Omni’s Chief Operating Officer Ryan Delk told Business Insider that customers will be able to select high-quality specialty items like drones from boutique retailers in addition to more pragmatic items like car seats.
“It also allows retailers to participate in this future where people are more intentional about what they purchase and pursue richer experiences,” Delk told Business Insider. “It’s a future where we rent more and own less.”
With this new service, users will be able to choose items from locally owned small businesses within the Omni app and pick the items up at the store. Delk said the decision to move to in-store pickup was partly because they learned many users found delivery fees prohibitive.
“If you need to rent a drill for a day, you may be income constrained and not have the disposable income to just go and buy a drill,” Delk said. “We want to build a company for hundreds of millions of people, not just the one-percenters in San Francisco and New York.”
Delk also explains that, as a 10-year resident in San Francisco, he understands how important locally-owned businesses are to the health of a neighborhood. He says that in-store pickup will help strengthen connections among neighborhood residents that may not otherwise interact. Omni is initially partnering with local businesses that have a reputation for excellent customer service, he told Business Insider.
Ripple, a cryptocurrency startup in San Francisco, led the company’s most recent funding round for $25 million in January 2018.
According to Delk, every retailer has the ability to set their own pricing and inventory through retailer tools on Omni’s platform. Retailers can adjust prices based on seasonality, demand, and item quality, he explained.
“A huge segment of [customer] demand is around these experiences people want to have with their friends, and Instagram is where you see that live,” Delk said. “Think about planning a park day with friends, or a camping trip, or learning a new hobby or exploring a new city. The items you need to do it well are expensive and hard to get, and it’s tough to get everything you need quickly. With Omni you can book these items and instantly go pick them up.”
Delk said the in-store pickup program would expand “aggressively” across the US in the coming year, though he declined to provide details.
“We believe it’s a necessity for humanity,” Delk said of intentional ownership. “This is how we will all be living, and in 10 years we will be thankful we figured it out. This product road of going from a factory onto a ship onto a truck into a city where you use it for six months or a few years and then it goes into a landfill will catch up with us.”