Launched in Stockholm in 2018, Airmee is a new kid on the block in terms of delivery companies. One of Sweden's fastest growing logistic start-ups, the technology powered company leverages machine learning to provide optimized delivery services to businesses and consumers in urban areas. They are particularly focussed on last-mile deliveries with which they claim to be setting new standards in consumer-focus, speed and sustainability.
Peter Hesslin has recently joined Airmee after years of working for more established logistic companies such as DHL and Sweden’s PostNord. “I have spent my whole life in logistics,” he says. “Airmee is all about logistics as well, but with more and more mature tech behind it.”
Hesslin is the Chief Business Development Officer at Airmee, with responsibility for partnerships too. He says most of his time is spent on business and product development with a lot of customer interaction. “We focus on business-to-consumer e-commerce deliveries at Airmee,” he says. “We do everything from pick-ups at customer warehouses to last mile delivery - everything that happens after pick and pack. But importantly, everything we do is done sustainably. Almost all of our deliveries are either fossil free or emission free and our state-of-the-art routing technology optimises flows for maximum efficiency.”
"Everything we do is done sustainably."
Airmee’s focus on e-commerce reflects how e-commerce’s transition to the new normal is having huge implications on the business of logistics, which, Hesslin points out, also affects brand owners.
“There are a number of different perspectives for brand owners,” he says. “If you look at the incumbents in retail like H&M, Zara and Marks and Spencer, they’ve had to go from being brick and mortar outlets to omnichannel retailers. So they have had to develop their whole interface in terms of selling what they have got in a shop to also selling that online, and then create all the logistics to cater for that. The impact on their warehouse operations is huge. Previously they’d maybe pick boxes with hundreds of pairs of jeans and ship those to stores. Now they need to pick and pack single items to cater for what individual consumers buy online, and then deliver those to a significantly increased number of drop-of points, such as homes, lockers or pudo.”
Hesslin adds that while this has brought challenges to brand owners, there are benefits too. “It makes it easier to do a market entry,” he explains. “You don’t need a physical store. You could even sell through an existing e-commerce platform like Amazon and not even have to deal with the last mile logistics, saving yourself a big expensive infrastructure investment.”
"E-commerce makes it easier to do a market entry."
Hesslin says that e-commerce has essentially created a consumer driven market. “You can do your shopping at home, and as the last mile delivery options increase, it’s becoming more and more convenient. Today you can get your items delivered at your home, or a locker somewhere convenient for you where you can collect it any time, or you can order it to be picked up in store. And while people who live in cities have always had easy access to consumer items, today it doesn’t matter where you live. Everybody has the same access to every brand. It’s just a click away.”
Airmee’s focus on sustainability is in part based on the company wanting to take responsibility. “We want to be part of the solution,” Hesslin says. “And more people and more companies need to become part of the solution. The third assessment report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just been released and it says that we have got three years to turn things around. After that it is going to be too late.”
And, he adds, Airmee’s focus on sustainability is also driven by the fact that it is a topic that the company’s customers also care deeply about. “Our customers absolutely want sustainable solutions,” he says.
With a few exceptions in some of the newer countries that Airmee is establishing itself, the company undertakes only fossil free deliveries. It aims, by the end of the year, to be completely emission free for last mile deliveries in Sweden. “It’s in our DNA,” says Hesslin. “And we are moving towards more and more emission free deliveries, with bikes and electric vehicles. Although transitioning from fossil free to emission free is a big challenge still because the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is simply not there. The amount of electricity required is not there either.”
While fixing electricity shortages is perhaps beyond Hesslin’s ability, he is trying, through passionate advocacy, to try and remove the amount of air that is contained in deliveries. “I am very engaged in talking to people about how much air we pack with stuff,” he says. “My estimate is that 30-40% of everything that we transport is air. There is just too much air in packaging. And if we could fix this, we could reduce the number of vehicles by 30-40%, helping to not only reduce the carbon footprint, but also alleviating today’s driver shortage.”
Reducing the air in packaging to a minimum, avoiding secondary packaging and producing packaging suitable for e-commerce at the point of manufacture, are key ways, Hesslin says, that brands can optimize their packaging from a logistics and e-commerce perspective.
"Positioning themselves as sustainable and truly living that by using the solutions that are at hand, is one of the biggest opportunities for any brand today."
Sustainability is also key in terms of optimizing e-commerce when it comes to customer satisfaction, Hesslin adds, along with speed.
“It is a fast moving world and everybody still wants fast deliveries,” he explains. “But deliveries that are sustainable. So brands should be very picky about their end-end solutions, because even a delivery has an impact on the brand. How, for example, is a brand offering clothes made from sustainable cotton going to reflect its values in the next stage of the purchase. They need to make sure that the delivery options are as environmentally good as that cotton shirt that is being purchased. The delivery solution also represents the brand.
“Positioning themselves as sustainable and truly living that by using the solutions that are at hand, is one of the biggest opportunities for any brand today,” Hesslin adds. “These solutions are slightly more costly but, hey, we’ve got a collected responsibility.”