A forward thinking parcel delivery company
PackFleet’s co-founder and CEO Tristan Thomas talks to GreenFleet about the company’s ethos, workplace culture, electric vehicles, and Uber-style technology
Packfleet is a forward-thinking parcel delivery company that runs an all-EV fleet from their base in London and has created logistics technology similar to the tech used by Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
The company delivers from 150 mostly independent businesses including wine shops, a cheese company, and a refillable grocery firm where they collect the empty packaging for reuse.
GreenFleet talks to the company’s co-founder and CEO Tristan Thomas about this new concept.
Why was Packfleet established and what is the concept behind it?
Whenever we receive a parcel, it’s always a mediocre experience. You’re never sure when it’ll turn up, and even if you wait around all day, the parcel often ends up being thrown over the fence.
The idea for Packfleet came in 2021, when I realised how broken the customer experience with couriers really is. The frustration and apathy we feel for delivery brands has become the norm, and there was a clear gap in the market for a courier service that customers could love.
But it’s not just consumers that suffer with couriers - merchants do too, and Packfleet is overhauling the business experience as well. During lockdown, I started a wine delivery service to stave off boredom with my newfound freetime after work. As a result, I was exposed to delivery from a seller’s point of view, and was surprised at how obtuse and inefficient it was.
I had issues with every major courier service. Either the sign up process was far too long, or parcels were frequently turning up to customers broken – which with wine isn’t ideal. I knew there was a better way to do deliveries, and that’s when the idea for Packfleet came about. I wanted to make sending parcels as easy as ordering a takeaway.
The technology you use is similar to that used by Deliveroo and Uber Eats. Can you expand on how the technology works?
In logistics, there’s a lot of room to do things differently, and we’re building a tech stack that will make every process of delivery better. Much like the food delivery apps, we provide live tracking for every package (with an ETA that’s actually correct), so you’re no longer waiting around all afternoon for a parcel that doesn’t even show up.
Expecting to be out when your delivery is due? You’ve got the option to change it on the day, automatically moving it in the driver’s schedule. Find yourself heading into the office with your parcel due at home? You can change the delivery destination whilst the driver is on the road. Just put your newborn to sleep? You can let your driver know to call you to say they’re outside, rather than them ringing your doorbell.
All of these changes are sent to the driver automatically, and update their routes whilst they’re on the road. Our tech keeps them on the most efficient route possible, saving time and reducing carbon emissions.
Please could tell us about your all electric delivery fleet - what vehicles are they and how are they charged?
We currently have a fleet of 20 vans which are shared amongst our 25 drivers. Within that, there’s a mixture of Peugeot and Maxus vans. They’re charged with renewable energy, and we use that same energy supply to boil the office kettle, making us carbon neutral throughout.
The company focuses on its drivers’ wellbeing – how important is this?
Driver wellbeing is incredibly important to us. We can’t ignore the fact that until now driver employment standards haven’t been acceptable – the amount of horror stories we hear from drivers of the well known courier brands is ridiculous. They desperately need to be brought in line with the rest of the working world.
Whilst the majority 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.
Do you have plans to try any other zero emission fuels, such as hydrogen, or investigate the use of cargo bikes?
Cargo bikes work well in really dense urban areas, but we cover the entirety of London and are expanding constantly, so they are less practical for our needs. This is the main reason why we’ve gone with all electric vans – we can reliably charge them all across London, and they give us the reach we and our merchants require.
Do you have expansion plans? If so, what are they?
To be successful, we need to be in a place where any time someone wants to move something physical, anywhere in the world, they open the Packfleet app. Whether that is a business shipping bottles of beer across the continent, or an individual sending house keys across the city because their partner has locked themselves out, we want to be the go-to courier.
We want customers to be able to load up the app, and with two taps of their screen they’ve got a courier on the way. Of course, we need to perfect this in the UK first, and that’s our short term goal. But in 10 years’ time, there’s no reason that we can’t have our operations across the entire world, facilitating both international and local deliveries.