Innovations and Start-ups: Last-Mile Delivery, Platforms and Drones

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

Trends and innovations in supply chain and logistics. That’s what this blog is all bout. Therefore I bring you an overview of my highlights of the news this week on logistics start-ups and innovations below. Follow @LogisticsMatter on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest news and the best background stories. Last week it was Zero-Emission Trucking, Drones, And Technological Disruption. This week it’s last-mile delivery, logistics platforms, and drones again.

Nothing Was Delivered (~Bob Dylan)

Last mile delivery is a part of the logistics process where many start-ups work on completely new approaches to delivery, or work on improving existing approaches.

One of those is delivery startup Crisp. Crisp is an Amsterdam-based startup that is trying to “unbundle” the supermarket. They use their software platform to connect consumers across the Netherlands to local suppliers. The ordered grocery are delivered in a one-hour time slot.

Where Crisp focuses on local suppliers, Czech start-up Rohlik is trying a different approach. Rohlik offers customers 17,000 different products, which they source from both international FMCG companies and local suppliers. They guarantee delivery withing two hours after ordering, and within a 15-minute window.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Starship, a start-up that developed a small delivery robot on wheels that can deliver small shipments. A similar robot was in the news last week. The robotics divisions of delivery start-up Postmates, Postmates X, developed an autonomous sidewalk delivery robot called Serve. Uber bought Postmates X last year for almost $2.7 billion, and will now spin off this robotics division. The new company is called Serve Robotics.

Platform Ballerinas (~ Mika)

The platform concept is one that has been used to disrupt many traditional industries. No wonder many logistics start-ups taking this approach to solving some of the many challenges logistics operations face.

One of them is the Swedish start-up Sendify, which has developed a platform that enables small B2B businesses to book and manage their daily shipping. The collaborative platform is aiming at solving to solve long tail logistics challenges.

Another platform is trying to disrupt the traditional retail eco-system. Fillogic, a Logistics-as-a-Service platform, has developed a mall-based micro distribution network. Retailers can use the hubs for logistics services like forward-staging inventory, receiving and fulfilling high-demand products, and expedited shipping.

Indonesian start-up Advotics developed a Software-as-a-Service solution to track supply chains in Indonesia. The logistics industry in Indonesia is very fragmented and Advotics tries to give companies control and insight into their supply chain. The SaaS solution they have developed enables companies to monitor whole range of processes from monitoring inventory levels to generating delivery routes for drivers.

Feel Like Flying (~Racoon)

Other companies are looking to the sky when trying to solve delivery challenges.

Last week I already wrote about Valqari, a start-up that has designed a smart mailbox that can receive drone-delivered packages in a safe way. Safety is an issue when delivering cargo by drone, especially in uncontrolled environments with consumers. The idea for a safe spot for drones to deliver packages is not new. I already wrote about a Kickstarter I noticed that tried to solve the drone-safety issue in 2014.

Also in last week’s update was a story of the United States Navy testing the delivery of supplies to ships at sea with drones. This week I came across a start-up in Singapore called F-drones that is developing a similar service for the delivery of supplies to commercial ships via drones.

COVID is causing a lot of problems in the world, but it is also presenting opportunities. One company grabbing the opportunity to solve some of the problem is drone delivery company Volansi. Volansi has been developing a cargo drone suitable to deliver temperature controlled (medical) supplies to remote areas, together with Merck. They are now looking into the option to deliver COVID vaccines to hospitals in North Carolina and other states.

Header image credit: Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

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