Tousfacteurs co-founder Benjamin Levine on GLS acquisition and market challenges

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Tousfacteurs co-founder Benjamin Levine on GLS acquisition and market challenges

Last month, International parcel service provider GLS announced the acquisition of French tech logistics company Tousfacteurs. Paris-based Tousfacteurs, a last-mile delivery start-up, was founded in 2015. The company specialises in developing digital and sustainable solutions to support its e-commerce offering.

Keen to learn more about what last month’s deal will mean for the future of Tousfacteurs, and to learn more about how the company is navigating the challenging waters of the express last-mile delivery market, we got in touch with Benjamin Levine, co-founder of Tousfactuers.

Thanks for talking to us Benjamin. You have said the acquisition of Tousfacteurs by GLS will accelerate growth. How much faster do you think you’ll be able to scale under the wings of GLS?

To start with, the acquisition will make it possible to roll out Track & Engage to all B2C parcels on the French Market before the 2022 peak season. Otherwise it would not have been possible.

GLS customers will be the only ones to benefit from this tech opportunity during their most crucial period of the year. We will then extend the solution to other European markets. Discussions are ongoing for deployments in 2023.

It appears that your focus on green last mile deliveries was one of the key reasons behind your partnership with GLS and latterly the acquisition. Tousfacteurs deliveries are of course done by bike, while GLS has its own fleet – including electric vehicles. Will you now be working together to provide customers with an option to have items delivered by zero-emission means, whether it be by bicycle or van?

Green Delivery is a strategic commitment for GLS, and we already compensate 100% of our Delivery. Our target is to deliver our parcel using green delivery vehicles, no matter if it is electric van or bicycle.

We will decide on each targeted area what is the most suitable delivery solution between a bike or a van, on a pragmatic approach.

Nevertheless, as Tousfateurs have been acquired, we will have more flexibility to test new solutions and answer client expectations regarding this matter which has become a requirement from the market.

When it comes to those bicycle deliveries, they are currently provided by self-employed riders. In some cases, there have been examples of last mile operators turning to direct employment as a means of fostering staff loyalty and maintaining fleet capacity. Is this something that Tousfacteurs may consider in the future?

Up to today, we have built an efficient self-employed riders based organization. Not only does it provide us with the required flexibility to cope with the frequent variations in e-commerce parcels volumes, but it is also the relevant answer to our partners who want to remain independent.

Nevertheless, today’s truth is not the one of tomorrow. Our objective is to find the best trade off between market needs and our partners expectations. We would take the time to assess any model that would help us reach that goal.

In recent weeks we have seen the likes of Gorillas and Getir reduce their workforce amid very strong competition in the space. A few operators have also struggled to meet their 15-minute delivery time promises. In some markets, the last mile space – particularly express deliveries – seems to be rather turbulent. Do you feel there needs to be a managing of expectations when it comes to the speed and cost of deliveries? Perhaps receiving an accurate ETA could be valued more than the unrealistic premise of an ultra-fast delivery at all times? 

Today, GLS does not propose an H+ delivery, but a D+ delivery. Nevertheless, quality is our core target to match consignee’s expectations. Our target is to respect our time delivery promise, with an outstanding delivery experience, based on a real time and geo-localized delivery. GLS France is the first French carrier company which offers throughout the full national territory a geo-location based real time tracking solution.

This solution called “Track” brings to the consignee more information than an ETA. As a matter of fact, we believe that in the long run, it is a smarter bet to invest on the delivery experience through flexibility and predictability rather than focussing on speed, which will remain too expensive to meet shippers willingness to pay.

Customers love the convenience of express parcel deliveries to their homes and workplaces. However, in some European countries, we also see complaints from residents about dark stores in their area or additional traffic in the form of vans or trucks going to urban warehouses. How much do you feel the general public will have to tolerate a degree of compromise here? 

People order more and more on ecommerce websites and, in the meantime, they look for quicker and greener delivery solutions.

These trends will for sure change the face of our cities. Municipalities should and will play a key role in defining the best trade off between the required urban space transformation to achieve their sustainability goals and people’s tolerance to the implied negative externalities.

Of course, our times may be complicated because of the strong competition in the market which results in higher inconveniences, but we think things will self-regulate with market consolidation.

One of the areas you specialise in is software designed to improve post purchase experience. How much further development can be done in regards to this? From what I see of the application, it offers clearly illustrated and detailed mapping and tracking of delivery. What improvements could be made with regards to interactive delivery management for example?

“Track & Engage” is composed of 2 main added value : “Track” a geo-localized real time solution, and “Engage” : the opportunity to display marketing feature on the “Track” page.

Our Track & Engage solution offers more than a “simple” Tracking and geo-localized delivery solution. It offers a post purchase branded experience.

Brands have understood the huge opportunity that “Engage” represents : display its brand during 13 mn (on average) to the consignee and use the tracking page as a powerful targeted media to increase consignee’s loyalty. If “Track” improves the parcel deliverability, “Engage” represents a marketing added value solution.

We are currently developing a new interactive solution, integrated in “Track & Engage”. This solution will allow our customer to directly interact with the driver during the last mile from the “Track” page to save potentially failed deliveries.

Another part of your business is the Proxipick TMS. To what extent will the GLS acquisition influence its future?

GLS France already has powerful tools to help their driver partners to grow their quality and their business. Proxipick will strengthen this partnership approach by bringing new tools and tech solutions to take their quality service to the next level.

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