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Poste Italiane to digitise excess truck capacity

Blog

Poste Italiane to digitise excess truck capacity

Ian Kerr

Italian postal operator Poste Italiane is setting up a joint venture with digital freight forwarder sennder, aimed at improving the post’s long-haul road efficiency.

The partnership with sennder will focus on the full truck load market, allowing Poste Italiane to drive efficiencies and leverage surplus capacity in its trucking network.

“Empty space in a truck means you’re leaving money on the table.” - Cathy Morrow Roberson, lead consultant and founder of Logistics Trends & Insights.

The joint venture will target transport demand coming from third parties inside and outside of Italy.

Poste Group currently employs around 800 third-party vehicles for long-haul alone, making approximately 2,300 journeys and covering 450,000km on an average day.

Based in Berlin, digital freight start-up sennder last month raised an undisclosed amount in its Series B financing, which followed a headline-grabbing seven-digit euro investment from Scania Growth Capital (Scania’s corporate venture capital fund) in 2017. Earlier this month sennder was announced as a participant in logistics startup accelerator Dynamo’s latest incubator programme.

The sennder software platform comprises mobile apps for drivers, fleet management tools for carrier managers and logistics management solutions for shippers.

To this point, the platform has focused on connecting large enterprise clients to small fleets. With the Poste Italiane JV, sennder will be involved with a national fleet that is grappling with the growth demands of e-commerce.

Poste Italiane CEO Matteo Del Fante said that the post is aiming for operational efficiencies and reduced emissions as a result of the JV.

Amazon’s role

Amazon is a big part of Poste Italiane’s push to deliver e-commerce. Poste Italiane is accommodating Amazon’s last mile needs by offering evening delivery, delivery to post offices, parcel lockers, and a PUDO partnership with tobacconists.

More recently, it seems that Poste Italiane’s air cargo subsidiary Mistral Air has been expanded to meet Amazon’s domestic demands in Italy.

Which leaves road transport. Could this partnership be a way for Poste Italiane to gain a share of Amazon’s LTL and FTL domestic freight? It’s a competitive market – but of late Poste Italiane has shown that it is prepared to compete in the last mile against the likes of DHL.

Major competitors in this market

Other companies have recognised an opportunity to digitise their fleets – in particular in the European market. Europe provides a special challenge to fleet managers, with trucks capable of crossing multiple borders in a day.

In 2017, DB Schenker invested US$25m in online shipping marketplace uShip. At the time, DB Schenker said it planned to use the platform for land transport, connecting its 30,000 or so transport partners in the European land transport network to their freight.

DHL launched online road freight platform Saloodo! in January 2017 for Europe, which was expanded to the Middle East earlier this year. Another global giant, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, acquired Freightquote.com for $365 million in 2015.

Meanwhile digital freight forwarder InstaFreight has been building an experienced management team following its Series A funding round of €8 million in late 2017. The German startup has digitised the entire freight booking process from quoting prices to invoicing.

What’s next?

Poste Italiane and sennder are still in the process of setting up the joint venture, with the aim of commencing operations in Q3 2019. Will that be enough time for sennder to come to grips with the quirks of the Italian transport, postal, and labour markets?

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