News & Analysis

Swift is fast becoming the logistics platform of choice for businesses globally, while Liquorun is put on hold

- September 16, 2015 5 MIN READ

You may remember Liquorun, a Melbourne-based alcohol delivery startup that went into hiatus recently, or so it seems. Liquorun was founded by three footballers Joel Macdonald, Rohan Bail and James Strauss, along with BlueChilli’s Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, who came on board as a technical co-founder. Liquorun’s front page states that the startup has shut down for a short period of time while improvements are made. This could be interpreted as troubling times for the startup. But it seems the co-founders are actually focusing on the more interesting side of Liquorun: its logistics management platform. The software platform is now an entity of its own called Swift, which has customers from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Russia, Jordan, Dubai and South Africa.

Swift’s fleet management software allows businesses of all sizes that manage their own delivery fulfilment using outdated, expensive manual processes, to have greater control over their delivery fleet, automate task assignments with a proprietary batching algorithm and communicate directly with the delivery recipient when a delivery is 15 minutes away to reduce driver wait time. Using Swift, businesses can lower delivery costs, reduce missed deliveries, maximise delivery driver uptime, offer an enhanced, real-time delivery experience for the end user, and collect an abundance of data to create further efficiencies.

There are no upfront costs or lock-in contracts; instead Swift operates on a pay-as-you-go model, with prices starting at 40 cents per job. The prices are tiered/discounted based on the volume or enterprise level of the company.

Macdonald said Swift was initially created for Liquorun.com. At the time, Liquorun was in desperate need to streamline its delivery dispatching to the closest driver and utilise the capacity in the area to ensure optimal task assignment and routing was executed automatically. Liquorun also wanted to enable customers to track their delivery in real-time, and send customers alerts at every step of the delivery journey to eliminate “delivery anxiety” about where their order was. This also meant Liquorun would be able to save having to answer customer delivery enquiries all day.

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Joel Macdonald, co-founder, Swift.

Once Swift was built and implemented into Liquorun’s operation, Macdonald said “something amazing happened”.

“Customer contact enquiries dropped by 65 percent so our support/operations team could get more done during each shift. We noticed customer service feedback ratings increased by 40 percent with the new tracking map feature. Drivers for Liquorun were able to get 1.1 extra deliveries done per hour once we introduced the Swift smart dispatch and routing feature,” said Macdonald.

“We saw so many efficiency gains at Liquorun after Swift was created that we then decided to make Swift a Software-as-a-Service available to the public.”

Essentially, Swift is a startup born from the frustrations of running a startup.

In Silicon Valley, Swift has been dubbed the ‘Shopify for delivery management’, however Macdonald feels this label is somewhat reductive: “it’s nothing more than a simple way to explain what we do.”

“Our core focus right now is developing the software and scaling our customer acquisition strategy to one day replace the phone lines, scanners, two way radios and job sheet print-outs that majority of carriers are still using,” Macdonald added.

Macdonald said one of the biggest reasons users love Swift is because it doesn’t require any integration with third party software like point-of-sale or ordering platforms.  

“We created a technical solution where any type of business can use Swift and automatically send their orders direct to Swift from the POS, ordering, management or ecommerce systems they are currently using and our proprietary tech streamlines everything without the business requiring any technical experience or a large integration budget,” Macdonald added.

In June this year, Business Insider reported on the rumour that Instacart, a US on-demand grocery delivery company, was trialling Swift. Startup Daily believes Swift has in fact secured a deal with Instacart, though Macdonald remained tight-lipped about it.

He was able to reveal that since expanding into the US, Swift has been able to secure a multimillion-dollar deal with a major US ecommerce retailer, and has gained a diverse range of customers like grocery chains, pizza stores, alcohol delivery startups, transport/courier services, dry cleaners, on-demand massage therapists, and most recently medical marijuana distributors.

One of Swift’s customers is a large network that acts as the distribution aggregator between local dispensaries in the Los Angeles area.

“This is such a new and exciting space that a lot of these companies are looking for solutions like Swift without having to build their own delivery management tools,” said Macdonald.

A lot of customers, including one of the medical marijuana distributors, approached Swift rather than the other way around, according to Macdonald.

“They came to us as they were growing really fast and they wanted to streamline their dispatching, tracking and management processes right through to ensuring feedback from their customers was collected in real-time via Swift’s SMS alert system,” Macdonald explained.

“Three members on their team were spending all day manually assigning jobs to drivers via phone calls and SMSing their drivers and at the time had no visibility on their drivers or what the status was for each job. So not only did their customers have delivery anxiety but the company management had no control or visibility either over where all the drivers and jobs were in real-time which was highly unproductive.”

According to stats collected by Swift, using Swift has resulted in a 57 percent reduction in customer enquiries, 24 percent reduction in delivery times, 39 percent reduction in  maintenance costs, 22 percent increase in driver routing efficiency, 46 percent increase in customer satisfaction feedback, 34 percent increase in driver performance, and 29 percent decrease in missed deliveries and waiting times.

Macdonald said they’re also in the early stages of analysing driver compensation claims – specifically how Swift has created transparency and visibility for management to reduce compensation claims of workers.

Locally, the startup is rolling out partnerships with two of Australia’s biggest pizza chains, one household name in the fast food space, one national online food ordering platform, three courier and delivery services and a national ecommerce grocery delivery service. Out of competitive respect for the brands, Macdonald was not able to name them.

Interestingly, in July, pizza chain Domino’s, which made record profits (net $64 million) in the last financial year thanks to its new focus on digital innovation, announced the national rollout of the GPS driver tracking technology, which sounds awfully similar to what Swift would be able to offer. Whether or not Swift is behind the GPS tracker, Don Meij, CEO of Domino’s, said connecting with consumers digitally is the biggest opportunity for the company, with continued investment in new digital initiatives key to maintaining momentum. He added that the GPS driver tracking technology is set to be the linchpin of the business locally.

“Since Domino’s announced that GPS tracking was a major driver for revenue and service growth in their recent financial report a lot of retailers are identifying the importance in our technology and also don’t want to spend six to 12 months in R&D when they can partner with Swift today for literally cents per transaction,” said Macdonald.

He added that Swift has appealed strongly to large Australian operators who understand that the technology can reduce costs and create efficiency gains in many aspects of their business, though a smaller, savvier subset of operators have been reaching out to Swift in an effort to improve their operations and have a competitive advantage in their respective markets.

However, the US market has been more welcoming, Macdonald admitted.

“The US market is a lot more mature and lean/efficient business models like Uber are raising awareness to what is now possible for any type of business to utilise similar technology, and that is where Swift is positioned really strongly. We are becoming an important tool, especially in the on-demand stack where it no longer makes sense for any business small or large to build their own tracking or management technology because it is cheap, easy and more efficient to use Swift,” said Macdonald.

Although Macdonald didn’t disclose how much revenue the company is generating, he did say it is growing at an average of 14 percent week-on-week. He added that Bane Hunter, who joined Swift to head up global growth and strategy this year, has been “extremely influential” in Swift’s current growth results. Macdonald even considers him the company’s “secret weapon”.

Thus far, Swift has raised two rounds of funding and is planning to open up another round in the coming months. Macdonald said the startup will be meeting with Australian and US-based investors with hopes to raise enough capital to manage Swift’s growth and further invest into sales and engineering.

Featured image: Joel Macdonald, co-founder, Swift. Source: Provided.

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