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A delivery man giving a parcel to customer

Zoom2u and Locate2u connect customers and couriers in the cloud for fast same-day delivery

Have you ever missed a delivery because you didn’t know when the delivery driver was arriving? It’s a frustrating experience and was the inspiration for an Australian startup that provides the technology to solve this very problem.

Six months after selling his previous business in 2013, entrepreneur Steve Orenstein was meeting a former investor for coffee when his phone began to ring – and kept ringing.

“It was from a new number, so I ignored it until after my meeting. I then listened to the voicemail, and it was a courier driver who was yelling and abusing me because it was the fifth time he’d tried to deliver a piece of furniture to my home,” he explains.

“It got me thinking: the delivery experience is such a bad experience for the consumer who’s receiving it, but it’s also a really bad experience for the driver.

All you need to do is connect the two people so they know when the delivery is happening, and you could make that delivery experience better.

So, Orenstein started researching the Australian courier industry and found a gap in the market that he was ready to fill.

“I started Zoom2u in 2014 as a marketplace that connects customers directly with couriers for same-day delivery,” he says. “The technology allows them to instantly book online or through their app, as well as track the live location of their driver and communicate with that driver.

“The way it works is we trigger an SMS at the point of checkout, and the customer receives the SMS with a link that they can click on to find out when the delivery driver’s arriving.”

Zoom2u facilitates the delivery of everything from an envelope to a full truckload of freight. It’s used by more than 70,000 customers across Australia, including individual consumers, small businesses and large enterprises.

The platform has more than 8,000+ registered delivery drivers and has processed more than 2.5 million deliveries to date.

A van with a graphical mockup of a phone ontop
With over 8000 registered deliver drivers, Zoom2U has facilitated delivery for over 70,000 customers across Australia (Source: Zoom2U, Locate2U)

Over the past few years, business customers have been asking to use their own staff and drivers to fulfil orders with the same strong digital platform that Zoom2u provides. So, in 2019, Orenstein launched Locate2u.

Locate2u is a B2B software-as-a-service platform designed to help businesses manage their own fleet of delivery vehicles. The white-label solution offers live tracking, optimised routing and live location sharing.

Amart Furniture is one of many large retailers across the globe that is using Locate2u to provide customers with accurate delivery timeframes and a flexible delivery network.

With 150 vehicles across Australia, Amart Furniture was spending six to seven hours a day figuring out which drivers were going to handle upcoming deliveries before using Locate2u.

“Now, it takes them 10 minutes, and our system pulls in all their bookings, it builds the route, it shows it, then they can go and do their pick-and-pack process off the back of that,” Orenstein says.

Scalability and reliability are ‘super important’

Zoom2u and Locate2u are both hosted on Microsoft Azure, and Orenstein says the ability to easily replicate databases securely within the platform was a huge drawcard.

“The safety of our customers’ data is the number one thing that makes me feel comfortable while sleeping at night, and not having to worry about making sure that those databases are absolutely safe,” he says.

“That’s why I like being on Azure. The fact that we can easily scale up between multiple data centres and multiple jurisdictions is super important.

Microsoft is investing billions of dollars into building this technology, so it’s nice knowing that you’re working with a company that is investing so heavily into building out this infrastructure, and that you can rely on it.

Orenstein says the infrastructure that was available in 2014 when his team began building Zoom2u is very different to what’s available now, “particularly around the Internet of Things [IoT] and the use of a time series database”.

Locate2u uses slightly more modern architecture, leveraging serverless capabilities, IoT Hub, Azure Maps and other platform-as-a-service features in Azure to create a scalable, multi-tenant application.

“As time goes on, we’re starting to replace certain aspects of what we’ve built in Zoom2u to use that newer technology,” Orenstein explains. “As we’ve learned and built things better in Locate2u, we’re then rolling those back into building them into Zoom2u.

“Typically, we’re doing a release once a week on both sides of the business. Azure makes that really easy for us to be able to do that and roll something out. Sometimes they’re small tweaks and improvements based on feedback from customers; at other times, they’re quite large new features.”

Orenstein says that Azure’s machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities have enabled Zoom2u to improve workplace safety at warehouses.

Zoom2U and Locate2U are both hosted on Microsoft Azure

“For example, if a delivery driver turns up to a warehouse, the system will ask the driver to take a selfie. It can actually verify whether he’s wearing a safety vest, and let them know that, ‘Hey, you’re in this environment, you should be wearing a safety vest for safety reasons’,” he says.

Growing locally and globally in the cloud

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a massive change in consumer behaviour, including making online shopping much more popular. As a result, retailers have had to rethink how they continue to service customers, and the speed and accuracy of deliveries is crucial.

This presents a big opportunity for Zoom2u and Locate2u to continue their respective growth trajectories locally and globally using Azure.

“That’s very much my focus – to grow these platforms as large as I possibly can,” says Orenstein.

“The pick-up and delivery industry is a $5 billion market in Australia, so we’ll just focus on that for Zoom2u. But for Locate2U, there’s a huge opportunity globally, and it’s much easier to scale that software globally.

“There are huge amounts of development that we want to continue investing in for Locate2u. We’re really thinking about how we can make sure that the customer experience is as good as it possibly can be from a delivery point of view, but also from a service business point of view.

“For instance, if you’re a plumber turning up to someone’s home, the customer will know when you’re actually arriving.

“I think if you fast-forward 10 to 15 years, that generation who’s only ever ordered a taxi through an app on their phone are going to expect the same sort of experience with any type of service business. It’s going to be really interesting.”