Zedify is a new, mostly pedal-powered courier company with bases across the UK. Launched on 18th June (a.k.a. Clean Air Day), the organisation has bases in Central London, East London, Brighton, Cambridge, Glasgow and Norwich, with the Cambridge base also acting as HQ. The launch of Zedify as an organisation represents a coming together of pedal-powered couriers already in operation; namely Outspoken Delivery and Recharge Cargo. Each of these have rebranded as franchisees under the Zedify umbrella.
Although the name Zedify suggests a preoccupation with ultra-low emissions, this is just one aspect of Zedify’s philosophy according to Co-Founder Sam Keam:
“I would say it’s broader than that – it’s about our footprint. Our footprint in spatial terms -reducing space taken up in city streets by delivery vehicles. Our energy footprint; using vehicles that use a fraction of the energy, which of course drastically reduces emissions and air pollution. We’re trying to address ethical concerns and overall we want to operate in a way that makes cities liveable.”
The philosophy is also a direct response to growing consumer awareness around these issues. A claim on the website states that 71% of millennials expect the brands they buy to be environmentally friendly and ethical. An initiative that reduces congestion in the cities where these consumers live is a very visible physical manifestation of these expectations.
How it works
Zedify is an example of the transformation of cycle-logistics from a niche activity towards slick, efficient professionalism. Franchisees use the same IT system and have the same policies and procedures. Their riders wear the same uniforms and their bikes are in the same livery. HR is dealt with centrally and riders are paid the Living Wage. As a Zedify customer, you can expect the same service levels from the whole network – customer accounts are also centralised. An eighth franchise in Edinburgh is due to be launched in the next few weeks.
We built our own robust, efficient technology platform that addresses the specific demands of providing predominantly cargo bike based city logistics.
IT company Skotkonung worked closely with Zedify to develop the IT system from the ground up. The system encompasses route optimisation, online booking, barcode scanning and end-to-end tracking. In a demonstration of their belief in the system they’ve created and in cycle-logistics in general, Skotkonung have also become a shareholder in Zedify. Skotkonung are fast becoming cycle-logistics specialists – they were also partners in the London-based Low Impact City Logistics project we covered in RIPPL #41.
What sets Zedify apart, in comparison with most mainstream delivery companies in the UK, is that no local exhaust emissions are created during delivery operations by e-bike. Although the vast majority of Zedify’s deliveries do take place on the bike, e-vans are used for “trunking” (intercity) work, or where heavy/bulky loads are destined for cities. In this last case the e-vans are often driven into the city centres, parked and used as mini-hubs from which bikes can operate multiple delivery runs.
This doesn’t change the fact that some downstream emissions are created – whether from recharging e-bike or e-van batteries, or – much more significant in quantity, simply from day-to-day business operations. It’s inevitable in these days of pre-100%-renewable energy. Keam argues however that this is mitigated by the fact that the vast majority of deliveries are undertaken by using pedal power, meaning overall emissions are drastically reduced. After all, the alternative would probably be a fleet of diesel-powered vans.
The inevitable Dutch comparison…
There are some interesting parallels between Zedify and Fietskoeriers.nl, a collective of courier companies we covered in RIPPL #32 who came together cover every major town and city in The Netherlands. Fietskoeriers.nl partners pooled their resources to create a network capable of competing with and working with large multinational delivery companies. There are a few differences when comparing Fietskoeriers.nl and Zedify, apart from the structure; the most obvious of these being cultural in origin. In order to set itself apart from the competition, Zedify emphasise their environmental credentials. By comparison Fietskoeriers.nl, who live in a world where bikes are ordinary, everyday objects used by most people, have the luxury of simply saying it’s more efficient.
A well known study states that cycle logistics could carry out half of all urban deliveries. You could argue then that the UK, currently nowhere near this figure, has enormous untapped potential for low emission last mile deliveries. This is especially true given that many UK cities are moving towards installing better networks of cycling infrastructure. However, the spatial and environmental challenges facing cities worldwide are very much in evidence in British cities, so it will be fascinating to follow how the Zedify model progresses in the coming years.
Interview with Sam Keam, Zedify Co-Founder, 29/06/2018
Independent: “Zero-emissions courier service Zedify launches nationwide to help tackle urban pollution”
Argyll Environmental: “Zedify: A business positively impacting air quality”
That’s Cambridge: “Zedify Launch Coincides With Clean Air Day” (Video)
BikeBiz: “Cargobike companies merge to form seven city Zedify”
Eastern Daily Press: “The Norwich courier service working to reduce air pollution”
Cycling Industry News: “Clean Air day marked with launch of zero emissions cargo bike logistics biz Zedify”
Cambridge News: “Cambridge courier firm Zedify says it can offer zero emissions deliveries across the country”
Motor Transport: “Zero-emission, last-mile service Zedify launches across the UK”
allmediascotland: “Local, green-powered delivery goes national to help businesses make every day a Clean Air Day”
ZNews24: “Zero-emissions courier service Zedify launches nationwide to assist deal with city air pollution”
The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: “Green-powered delivery helps businesses tackle urban pollution”
City of London: “New air pollution busting cargo-bike scheme launches in Square Mile”
Main photo credit: Zedify