Drive Yello 2024: Last Mile Delivery Made Easy!

Published on
May 6, 2024
yello courier delivering a package

At Drive Yello, delivery is not merely about getting a package from point A to point B; it's about crafting an experience that delights both businesses and customers alike. With a mission firmly rooted in sustainability and empowerment, Drive Yello is paving the way for a gig economy that is not only robust but also socially responsible. Under Fanale's leadership, Drive Yello has become more than just a logistics platform—it's a movement towards a future where deliveries are not just timely, but also tailored to the individual needs and preferences of each customer. By seamlessly connecting gig workers with e-commerce businesses, Drive Yello ensures that orders are not only fulfilled promptly but also with a personal touch that sets them apart in a crowded marketplace. Join Delivery Rank as we delve deeper into the visionary journey of Steve Fanale and the transformative impact of Drive Yello on the delivery landscape, where efficiency meets empathy, and every delivery is an opportunity to make a lasting impression.

What inspired you to found Drive Yello, and how does your vision for the company shape its approach to transforming the delivery experience?

It’s been almost 10 years since the idea of Drive Yello came to me to help solve a problem my co-founder was experiencing as a pizza store franchisee. It was a Friday night, and we were out together, his stores were super busy, and he had a couple of delivery drivers call in sick. He had no choice but to leave us and do deliveries, as this was pre-Uber and DoorDash starting up in Australia. So, I thought, surely there's a business in being able to book drivers exclusively for your business to conduct deliveries when regular casual drivers aren't available. That's what sparked the idea. I got the inspiration from the technology used in Uber rideshare at the time, focusing on batching, tracking and allocating orders to drivers and giving restaurants and consumers the ability to track their orders to the door.

We initially focused on delivering fast food, aiming to solve a problem for a friend. On the back of testing the idea with an MVP I built on WordPress to book drivers, we secured some initial seed investors, built the technology, and landed Mcdonald's as one of our first clients. They had their own drivers then and wanted to use our technology to manage their deliveries. From there, we continued to grow and eventually partnered with Menulog, an aggregation platform in Australia that is part of the international group Just Eats. This partnership was very successful, and we experienced significant month-on-month growth from day one.

However, as things were going well, they had to decide to either buy or build, and unfortunately, they decided to develop their own delivery platform and gig network. This posed a significant challenge for us as they were 90% of our business at the time. This was when we decided to diversify outside the fast-food industry, resulting in Drive Yello helping Australia's largest supermarket, Woolworths, to be the first to do fast grocery delivery in Australia.  Grocery and alcohol became our staple over the next few years, experiencing significant growth, especially during the Covid years. We soon became one of the largest gig economy delivery companies in Australia.

From this base, we continued to expand our delivery services to a wide range of industries, from clothes to pet supplies, sports equipment, and more. We collaborate with various retailers who wish to utilize gig economy delivery services to deliver quickly and within tighter delivery windows.

Drive Yello emphasizes the importance of adding a personal touch to the delivery experience. How does the platform achieve this, and how does it impact customer satisfaction?

Good question. We approach it in two ways. Firstly, we are very aware that the gig economy is sometimes underpaid within the market, particularly when doing jobs for some of the bigger players. However, we are promoters of ensuring that couriers and drivers are paid what they deserve. We are working with the industry to establish a fair minimum pay for each job based on effort and time. What someone is being paid to do a job will obviously affect the quality of the work. Not only will this influence who you are attracting to conduct the work, but also, the quality of the work being conducted. If a courier must rush from one delivery to the next just to make a decent living, they are probably inclined to rush through the process and not necessarily do a great job. But if they have the time to provide excellent customer service, they are more likely to take the time to do so.

Secondly, we incorporate a lot of training into our onboarding process. We ensure that drivers know how to properly store goods and products in their cars and train them in what constitutes good service. Additionally, we constantly gather feedback from both consumers and retailer customers on the level of service provided and correct any issues as needed. Across the business, we prioritize good customer service. We follow the principles outlined in a book called "Fanocracy," which focuses on turning fans into customers and customers into fans. We want everyone to sing our praises, whether they be retailers, consumers, couriers, employees, or investors.

Can you walk us through the journey of a gig worker using the Drive Yello platform, from onboarding to completing deliveries, highlighting any unique features or support systems in place?

It's probably not unlike most gig platforms. As far as onboarding is concerned, it's similar across the industry. You sign up via an app and must provide certain documentation. We conduct a certain level of vetting, including police checks, to ensure the drivers have valid insurance and driver’s licenses, etc.  

The next step is education. We provide training on how to conduct various types of deliveries, for example delivering alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and other items that require steps to comply with the law and our service standards.

After that, it's all about monitoring to ensure that the goods are delivered on time and that the couriers are doing a great job. From here, it’s all about incentivising good practices, discouraging bad ones, and letting market forces do their job.

How does Drive Yello collaborate with e-commerce businesses to optimize their delivery processes and achieve mutual success?

This is the value that we bring to the retailer relationship, as not every retailer is ready for the type of delivery we provide. A significant change must be made in how they manage their deliveries. They need to be able to pick and pack in-store and have good stock management systems across their entire retail network. Our primary model is to deliver from the retailer's stores, not just their warehouses. This is more conducive to faster and more accurate delivery times. The types of retailers equipped, trained, and ready for our delivery have a high level of stock management across their store footprint. They also have good pick and pack processes in-store. We work with retailers to ensure they are educated on best practices, enabling us to have a smooth handover at pickup and delivery.

Being on time is a critical metric for us; one of our key differentiators is being faster and more accurate in our estimate of delivery time. Rather than waiting all day, we provide a specific window when the items will be delivered, and it's important that we consistently meet that expectation. We constantly monitor our success in meeting these expectations and adjust our network and algorithms to improve the process while also working with retailers to make improvements on their end.

What challenges do you foresee in the future of last-mile delivery, and how is Drive Yello preparing to address them?

As mentioned earlier, on-time delivery is an important metric for this type of last-mile delivery, particularly as the delivery expectation becomes faster. Amazon in Australia is a big player, but it doesn’t have the market share or service offerings it has in other parts of the world. For example, in the US, you can pretty much get anything delivered within an hour, whereas here in Australia, they offer same-day and maybe next-day delivery for most products. So, it's obvious they can, and more than likely will, up the ante in the fast last mile arena at some point, and when they do, the need for other retailers to do the same to compete increases.

As a service and technology provider to the retailer, we must ensure that they remain ahead of the game. Much of that comes down to continuing to innovate. One example is using AI to predict demand to improve the efficiency and accuracy of allocating orders.

We do see a future where delivery will incorporate some form of automated vehicle, but we still feel that we are very much in the early adopter stage, particularly here in Australia. It's still a little way off, and our delivery environment is relatively unique here. Our population density is not as high as in other parts of the world, so we need to come up with more innovative ways to reach our customers. Due to our unique environment, we must continue to innovate locally to develop relevant and appropriate ways to improve the experience for the retailer, the consumer, and the courier.

The courier is obviously an important part of the delivery process and critical to its success. This was never more exemplified than during the COVID lockdowns. Nothing would've been delivered without gig economy services. At Drive Yello, we are proud of our community of couriers and our team for being able to meet the challenge during that period.

We must adapt to situations like that, even those we may never have experienced previously.  That period of our lives was unique, but who's to say something like that's not going to happen again? It doesn’t have to be another pandemic or world tragedy, but it could be something like a new technological innovation we must adapt to quickly. So, I suppose that's my underlying message:  the needs and wants of customers in our industry continue to evolve, change, or get disrupted. Our biggest challenge is that we must continue to adapt, innovate, and disrupt to ensure we continue to improve the service for everybody and meet our customers' expectations.