It was a desire to make cities more liveable and sustainable that brought Jon Williams to Zedify, and four years on, that idea remains central to his vision.
After forging a career in advertising technology, Williams assumed the role of CCO with a goal to help transform the world of last mile delivery.
Zedify is now present in 11 cities across the UK, completing deliveries with its fleet of cargo bikes for consumer brands and logistics companies alike, and establishing itself as an attractive alternative for firms in both spaces.
Having developed relationships with couriers such as FedEx, Evri, and DPD, in addition to major Spanish e-commerce retailer Zara, Williams is keen to see Zedify build on this momentum and continue its expansion throughout the UK.
“I firmly believe that there is time for a revolution within last mile delivery,” he tells Zag Daily.
“The COVID-19 lockdowns and the growth of e-commerce and home deliveries created huge opportunities within the sector, and Zedify is now at the forefront of reinventing last mile delivery – which is an incredibly exciting place to be.”
Suited to cities
To Williams and his contemporaries at Zedify, cities are the primary domain of cargo bikes and the setting in which they can cause maximum disruption to the status quo.
Able to move in and out traffic with ease and then seamlessly park outside the homes of consumers for drop off, Zedify believes that cargo bikes are “absolutely best in class”.
“There is nothing better than a cargo bike,” Williams explains.
“Once you are delivering in dense urban and suburban neighbourhoods, a cargo bike is faster and more efficient than any other kind of vehicle.”
This efficiency is borne out in their delivery statistics, as cargo bikes are far less susceptible to delays than vans and cars.
“The predictability of our journeys tends to be much better because we can avoid congestion in cities and other congested places,” says Williams.
“If you are driving a car in a city, journey lengths can vary wildly depending on the day and traffic. When you compound these differences over 100 deliveries in a day, the margin for error is significant. However, with our cargo bikes, the differences are minuscule on a day to day basis.”
Satisfied staff, satisfied customers, satisfied retailers
While many firms within the last mile delivery space have embraced the gig economy, Zedify is proud of its record as a real Living Wage employer.
“Our riders are the absolute foundation of the business, and we want them to be stakeholders,” Williams says.
“We are not a gig economy business; we are a real living wage employer. And because our riders are not racing the clock all the time and have a better working atmosphere, they are happier and more friendly when they arrive at the door.”
Williams believes the relaxed environment that Zedify has created for its riders ensures they maintain higher standards with customers.
This idea is certainly evidenced by Zedify’s customer approval rating, which stands out by comparison to the competition.
“I think our ethos is reflected in our net promoter score, which rates the overall experience that we provide for our clients,” he adds.
“The industry average is around 40 out of 100, whereas ours currently sits at 88 – put another way retailers are more than twice as happy to deliver their parcels with Zedify than the average carrier.”
This is important when considering that 24.8% of attempted online purchases are abandoned by shoppers due to poor delivery choices and slow delivery speeds, which means retailers are losing up to £31.5bn a year.
A truly sustainable alternative
Social responsibility and an emphasis on sustainability is becoming increasingly commonplace within the corporate world and Zedify is willing and able to capitalise on this trend.
While the shift towards electric vehicles and carbon offsetting has been a sign of progress, Williams argues that cargo bikes are a far better solution for companies looking to reduce emissions.
“Clearly, a number of corporations have identified last mile delivery as a carbon intensive transaction and by working with Zedify, deliveries are going to be helping them deliver on their net zero goals,” he says.
“Offsetting, if done properly, is better than doing nothing, but the emissions have still been produced. Electric vans are not the solution because of the embodied emissions that are generated in the development of these vehicles.”
He continues: “This is not the case with a cargo bike though. Looking at our recent impact report which compared the lifecycle of a cargo bike with EVs and vans, they are 97% more efficient than a piston van and 96% less harmful than an electric van. This means that a cargo bike really is the only sustainable solution for last mile delivery.”
Despite these results, the notion persists that electric vans are a sustainable option. Williams wants to flip this narrative on its head.
“Even as a doorstep experience, vans and e-vans look the same whereas a cargo bike pulling into a smaller space, not blocking the road, is strikingly different, so if you’re a Zara, it signals to the consumer that they take the impact of each delivery on their city very seriously.
“Our biggest challenge as a business is to convince people that cargo bikes are the best way to find a truly sustainable solution for last mile deliveries.”
Zedify is now present in 11 cities across the UK including an imminent launch into Manchester, an area of the UK it was previously under-represented in.
“Birmingham is the next step for us as we bridge the gap to the Midlands, and Zedify has just taken on a new investment round as we fuel that growth beyond Scotland and the south of England,” Williams explains.
“Within Edinburgh, we are currently working with four carriers, including a new trial partnership with DPD. If that is successful, we will roll out the service with DPD across our entire network.”
This DPD partnership is an exciting new frontier for Zedify and perhaps portends significant change for major couriers in the UK.
Whether that shift is realised over the next few years remains to be seen, but it is clear Williams and Zedify are keen to lead the charge into the future.