With the brand new SMS-based ordering service called Magic, anyone with a mobile phone can order whatever they want—really, anything—by sending causal text messages. Who says magic isn't real?
WIRED shelled out $500 to one of their writers, Brent Rose, to spend on Magic. In the video, which has since gone viral, Brent orders a variety of things including food, beer, a hoodie, an authentic Mexican wrestling mask, and even some weed.
While we didn't have $500 to spend, we decided to keep it cheap and try out the service out for ourselves, with a more realistic limit of around $100. Check out the video below to see how it went for us.
Since lunchtime was rolling around, we decided to order some food to get our stomachs settled for the day. We mulled over the options and decided on In-N-Out, which is only a three-mile drive from the WonderHowTo office, but can take over an hour to drive there, place an order, and come back because it's situated directly next to my alma mater—UCLA (go Bruins)—and traffic in the area simply sucks.
As you can see below, I messaged Magic about ordering some In-N-Out. They quickly responded by asking what I wanted, and I sent back my address and the food order. They replied with a price, which included the cost of food, fees for delivery, and a tip for the driver.
In the next text, they sent a 128-bit encrypted HTTPS link where I could enter my card or Bitcoin information, as well as create a personal profile for future use.
The total price of my order came out to $50, which is pretty pricey, but still doesn't take away from the fact that I'm getting In-N-Out delivered to me without having to get off my ass. A minute after entering my information, I was sent confirmation that my food was on its way.
Ordering Some Beer
About 10 minutes later I decided I was a little thirsty, so I messaged Magic once again to ask for a couple of Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) tall cans for delivery. They once again responded quickly and asked me to send a picture of my ID to prove that I was over the legal drinking age.
Two tall cans of PBR came out to $15 and would be delivered by the same driver bringing me the In-N-Out order, which is great because I would receive both at the same time.
Food & Beer Delivery
About an hour after my payment went through, our delivery arrived! I ran excitedly to the door and voilà, our driver had a 12-pack of beers in one hand and our In-N-Out in the other.
The first thing that I noticed was that our 2 tall cans of PBR were replaced with a 12-pack of the exact same beer. Hell to the yes!. It seems the grocery or liquor store the driver went to didn't have tall cans, so he got a 12-pack.
Ordering Something a Little Harder to Find
Finally, we decided to order something a bit more difficult than food or alcohol, and we narrowed it down to three more-obscure items:
- V/H/S (the movie) on VHS
- The Room on DVD
- Washed Out's Within and Without vinyl
After having some trouble with Magic initially receiving my text messages, I received a call from one of their managers, John, who kindly asked what I would like to order over the phone. After he jotted down the items, we hung up. Around 20 minutes later, they had options for me to purchase all three items, with VHS being the only item that I wouldn't be able to get same-day.
I decided on The Room for $40, and a little over an hour later, look what arrived at my door.
How It Works
Using actual, real-life people, Magic has a staff answering customer requests at all hours of the day, communicating with third-party services to deliver whatever their customer wants. The service that brought us our beer and food was Schlep & Fetch, a delivery service located in Hollywood that Magic has a close relationship with.
Magic gets in contact with a service like Schlep & Fetch, tells them what they need delivered, and the third-party service goes from there. Each scenario is unique, so prices will range from customer to customer.
We talked to Grant Lowery from Plus Labs, the company behind Magic, about how exactly they profit from the service. While fees vary, you should expect a 5% to 10% markup on whatever you would usually spend to get something delivered directly through any of the third-party services.
My In-N-Out, if delivered directly through a service like Schlep & Fetch, would be about $2 to $5 less than if I ordered it through Magic, but then I would need to call the service and place the order—definitely not as easy as texting. And of course, I didn't have to do any of the work in finding the appropriate third-party service, which I had never heard of until now.
When it comes to what you can order, you can literally order anything you want, as long as it's legal. Everything from a pack of gum to a brand new BMW can be brought to you, as long as you've got the money for it.
Magic has already been used to deliver sushi and flowers to a boat, prevent someone from going to court, get a parking ticket dismissed, make reservations at exclusive clubs, plan a birthday party, and even help someone sell their truck.
Our Thoughts on Magic
All in all, I was extremely satisfied with the way everything went with Magic. In total, we spend $105 for three orders: In-N-Out, a 12-pack of cheap beer, and a not-so-easy-to-find DVD.
Delivery times were exceptional, especially because the WonderHowTo office is smack in the middle of Santa Monica, where traffic is relentless all day long—so to get anything in around an hour is a miracle in and of itself.
Another aspect of Magic that was wonderfully surprising was their customer service. Instead of feeling like I was dealing with a robot, I felt as if I was texting a friend. I loved that they called me after a few technical issues. They would also promptly text me about how the delivery went a few minutes after receiving the item. If their customer service continues to go above and beyond for everyone else in the future, then Magic is going to be something to reckon with.
Getting on Board
Currently, there is a 30,000 people waitlist for Magic. You can share the service on Twitter and Facebook to climb up the list, but it could still be a little while before you can get your hands on Magic (unless you want to pay a large fee). To join the waitlist, just text 83489 (make sure to check their website for the most current number).
Yes, the service isn't for everyday use because of how pricey it can get, but it definitely can come in handy when there's no other way to find what you need, when you need it now(ish).
So the next time you're at a party and and everyone wants to play beer pong, instead of having someone go for a drive, tell them you got it and text Magic what you need. In an hour, you'll have cups, balls, and beer delivered straight to your door.
And that's the future, man.
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