Uber-for-parcels startups Relay raises $10M Seed round in UK

Incumbents in the parcel delivery space often have fixed daily routes from suburban depots. But since most parcels are relatively light in weight, it’s a small hammer to crack a nut. That’s why it makes sense to “Uber-ise” local deliveries. Indeed, in Asia, the ‘asset free’ shipping model of using mini depots instead of large owned depots has proliferated. That model is more scarce in Europe, though.

Thus, Relaywith a delivery platform for e-commerce companies has raised a $10 million seed round, led by Project A Ventures in Berlin and Prologis Ventures in the US.

Relay’s end-to-end parcel delivery service — which includes the first, middle and last miles — uses urban-based ‘pitstops’ and couriers, which means it has less overhead compared to suburban area depots and sorting centers, it says.

The company says its routing platform matches couriers with routes and combines deliveries and returns into one route, unlike Uber’s model. It also says customers can complete a next-day service. Local couriers are entitled to sick and holiday pay, as well as other benefits, Relay said.

Current clients include major UK retailers JD Sports, THG (with brands such as MyProtein and Glossybox), and other business retailers. It’s now live in London, with UK-wide plans for 2024.

“In Asia, delivery companies are built specifically for e-commerce – in Europe and the US, it’s the exact opposite, with delivery companies built for a world that doesn’t yet have the internet,” Jonathan said. Jenssen, co-founder and CEO of Relay in a statement. “Relay bridges the gap between the rapid growth of e-commerce and old-school delivery.”

In the UK, Relay competes with Evri, Royal Mail, Yodel and DPD, among others.

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