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

Incumbents in the parcel deliveries space usually have fixed daily routes from suburban depots. But since most parcels are fairly lightweight, this is a bit of a hammer to crack a nut. So it makes sense to “Uber-ise” local deliveries. Indeed, in Asia, the “asset free” delivery model of using mini depots instead of large owned depots has proliferated. That model is scarcer in Europe, however.

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

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

The company says its routing platform matches couriers to routes and combines deliveries and returns in one route, not unlike Uber’s model. It also says customers can end up with a next-day service. Local couriers are entitled to sick and holiday pay, as well as other benefits, says Relay.

Clients currently include the large U.K. retailers JD Sports, THG (which has brands such as MyProtein and Glossybox) and other enterprise retailers. It is now live in London, with a U.K.-wide rollout planned for 2024.

“In Asia, delivery companies were built specifically for e-commerce — in Europe and the US, it was the exact opposite, with delivery companies built for a pre-internet world,” said Jonathan Jenssen, co-founder and CEO of Relay in a statement. “Relay is bridging the gap between rapidly evolving e-commerce and old-school delivery.”

In the U.K., Relay will be competing with Evri, Royal Mail, Yodel and DPD, among others.


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