Tristan Thomas, CEO and co-founder of Packfleet
We’ve all had nightmare deliveries – not being sure when your parcel will arrive, it landing on your doorstep broken… and then sometimes it doesn’t even turn up. On the whole, receiving a parcel is a mediocre experience. But it’s one that we put up with literally hundreds of times a year.
These dreadful experiences were the catalyst for Packfleet. The idea came during lockdown, when I realised how broken the customer experience with delivery brands really is. The frustration and apathy we feel towards them has become the norm – it’s accepted – and it shouldn’t be like that.
I knew there was a better way to do deliveries, so I decided to set up Packfleet.
Leading with tech
I came to the delivery sector as a complete beginner, and when you enter into an industry as a rookie you don’t have any preconceived notions, which definitely worked in my favour. You’re not afraid to ask stupid questions, and you can bring fresh ideas to traditional methods of doing things.
When I first founded the company, I quickly got used to asking stupid questions to really understand how things worked. I found that oftentimes, there’s not a real reason for the methods being used, it’s just how things are.
I found the logistics sector is especially resistant to change, and many of the processes in place are just tradition. It made me wonder why tech wasn’t being used to refine what was clearly a broken system. Creating a solid tech stack and using it as the basis to enhance the logistics sector just made sense. Now, we’re able to rip up the rulebook and make deliveries more efficient, sustainable, and consumer friendly.
With intelligently applied technology, most aspects of a business can be made more efficient. Everything from automating manual processes to optimising the customer journey is possible. If you build your business with tech at the forefront, you’ll grow quicker, scale better and operate smoother than competitors – especially in a legacy sector like logistics.
Don’t miss the tech trick
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that the delivery incumbents have ignored technology, it’s that they’re too big to easily retrofit large scale change. They’ve missed a trick by not building the framework of their business tech-first, and now it’s costing them dearly.
In logistics, this is especially difficult because the problems you face aren’t just digital. You’re dealing with parcels, drivers, vans, and most importantly: people. It’s a physical industry, and any bit of technology you can use to make those physical processes easier can be advantageous.
For example, the tech stack we’ve developed allows us to bring the digital customer experience that you’d expect from the likes of Deliveroo and Uber to the world of parcel delivery. It enables live tracking for every package (with an ETA that’s actually correct) and offers the option to change everything about the delivery: the time it arrives, the address it arrives at, whether we ring your doorbell or not — all at any point on your parcel’s journey.
This means there’s no miscommunication, lags or delays. There’s also a function that optimises delivery routes on the fly, so drivers are always on the most efficient route possible.
It also keeps delivery expectations manageable. Drivers aren’t forced to speed round London or cut corners to get their parcels delivered on time. They aren’t stressed when they return to the warehouse and haven’t put the vans at risk to deliver every parcel before the end of the day. If things can be improved, they should be – that’s what building a service-model business is all about.
Company culture matters too
With that being said, you can’t be too reliant on tech. Business management is also about the personal relationships you have with employees.
For me, it’s about checking in with drivers as frequently as I do with office staff and treating everyone fairly and with respect. The amount of horror stories we hear from drivers of the well-known courier brands is ridiculous, and this attitude to driver employment is unacceptable. Whilst most of the big courier companies franchise out their vans, or pay drivers for every parcel they deliver, we employ drivers like any other member of staff. They get all the benefits of full-time work, and don’t have to drive recklessly to deliver their parcels – which sadly isn’t the industry standard.
Company culture can’t be overlooked as being a key part of our success. Without happy drivers, you don’t get happy customers. There’s no denying that culture is the fabric of successful business management. Without a strong culture, any advantages you gain from your tech stack can be lost to low staff retention or disgruntled employees. If your team dwindles, so will your business, and no sophisticated tech stack can make up for this.