Gophr is a marketplace made up of two sides: couriers and customers: supply and demand. Startups working in the on-demand delivery sector tend to be well funded enough that they only tend to think about keeping one side of the equation happy; the customers. Although we haven’t raised an insubstantial amount of cash, unlike some of our competitors we haven’t had enough to subsidise paying riders and drivers to be on standby. This has forced us to think about how we can deliver value to both sides of the customer/courier equation. Thankfully the traditional B2B courier space hasn’t generally done a terrific job when it comes to taking care of their couriers either. To get an edge on our competition we knew we had to make feedback loops an absolute cornerstone of our approach. What we’d discovered after a year of doing courier and customer interviews – before we’d even written our first line of code – drove this thinking. We spoke to customers who had companies of all shapes and sizes to understand what it was they found frustrating about dealing with courier companies. And on the other side of the equation, we interviewed lots of couriers to understand what it was that they loved (and hated) about their work to see how we could improve their day-to-day experience. This set out the overall direction and vision for the problems Gophr would solve on both sides of the equation.  However we also wanted to make sure we had plenty of opportunities to understand whether we were on the right track. This meant building lots of feedback channels to increase our chances of being exposed to insights that would drive product and service improvement. Today we have a number of different channels through which customer and courier feedback is gathered. It comes into what is effectively Gophr’s central nervous system – Slack (more on how we use Slack here). I’ve placed them all in one handy list:
  • Customer messenger chats or phonecalls: Intercom (or any other CRM system) is great for this. Both in terms of getting feedback  there and then through live chat or automatically prompting users to give you feedback via email. We tend to do this after thanking them for booking regularly. It’s a surprisingly great way to get nice responses. And again, having actual conversations with customers is a great way to get some deep insights into the product.
  • NPS: we use an app called AskNicely, it’s pretty expensive for what it is but we’re kind of locked in given the data we’ve gathered to date. Personally if I were to start over I’d just use an automated email with the ‘Pro’ version of Typeform. Cheaper and more or less does the same thing.
  • In-app feedback: easy one. This mainly comes in when a job is done, whether its been delivered or cancelled.  If a customer cancels we want to know why. Similarly, if a courier is given a low rating we want to be able to act on it
  • Google reviews: Pretty obvious, there for all the world to see
  • Trustpilot reviews: See Google reviews above
  • Courier chats: Either face to face or via messages. We’re very courier focused and they are brilliant for telling us whether there are any bugs or where we should go next. We’ve set up a private Facebook group for this too.
Once gathered the feedback is either dropped unfiltered as an idea in its own right, or it sparks an idea which is then shared with the team. Over time we’ll find that the same idea keeps coming back, or ideas start to group together as themes or projects. Over time these layers of ideas can build up into one ultimate solution, or can spark an entirely brand new approach to solving the problem. These new approaches tend to be of the ‘silver-bullet’ kind in that they kill many different problems with a simple or elegant solution. As opposed to a collection of ideas which can be quite big in scope. The sheer number of channels we have for gathering feedback gives us a very good idea of what jobs need to be prioritised next. Given that we are still a small team it’s also useful to have this additional layer of guidance. It helps to keep us focused even when it’s a struggle to prioritise at times (it all seems so damn vital!). I’d say the single biggest barometer of whether we are doing a good job are our NPS scores. They’ve never been lower than over twice the industry average for the parcel delivery sector (26) at any time (yes, including Christmas). The highest they’ve ever been is over three times that much (78.8). We’re aiming to permanently stay over that number for 3+ months at a time as we move forward. We’ll keep you posted on how we get on with that ambition. So here are some real-world examples of the stuff this feedback has produced:
  • Gophr courier app, specifically:
    • user interface
    • manifest (how the jobs are displayed and in what order)
    • dynamically rearranging the manifest based on location and time deadlines
    • ETA’s
    • sign-off screens
    • map functionality
  • Gophr customer webapp:
    • UI
    • Team functions
    • Live tracking
    • Multi-drops
    • Printing address labels (thanks Lovefone)
As ever, if you have any questions do hit us up in the comments section/tweet/live chat us and we’ll be more than happy to help in any way we can.
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Apart from the a handful of messages we’ve received about a few of our couriers, no one ever finds logistics sexy.

If you are expecting me to change your mind with this blog post, please prepare to be disappointed. Nonetheless, we are super proud of what we’ve managed to achieve with our latest feature rollout. This thing touched nearly every facet of our product line. Our customer mobile app remains unchanged as our webapp bookings still dwarf our mobile app bookings so it always takes priority.

The whole project took about 12 weeks to complete and necessitated a complete restructure of how our backend works, as well as webapp UI and courier app UI.

So what are multi-drops and why are they such a big deal?

Basically, multi drops are the ability to book one courier to go to one pick up to gather lots of packages to be dropped at multiple delivery points – hence ‘multi-drops’ (also applies to multiple pick-ups going to one delivery point). This leads to more efficiency and therefore a cheaper price for the customer.

Our entire backend platform was geared toward optimising for single jobs, both at the point at which they are assigned as well as when they are in progress (more on that here). Having this set up means the system is set up for fluidity. So dropping a daisy chain of multiple pick ups and drops as part of one job is a little like running a set of train tracks over some sand dunes. In other words; hard.

Added to this, we had only ever designed our booking process for one job at a time. And because we don’t have controllers to manually sort out the most optimal routes for any given run, all this needed to be handled during the booking process itself, adding another layer of complexity.

So we needed to completely rethink the user interface whilst making other improvements we’d been meaning to do for some time.

So why did we do it?

  1. It was one of the only aspects of our service where we still couldn’t compete with traditional courier companies
  2. We were getting a lot of requests from existing clients for this feature
  3. Because of 1 and 2 there’s no way we could get to the kind of volumes we want to unless we actually sorted it out

So how does it work?

A big downside of our previous UI was users could only receive a quote at the very end of the booking process when they’d entered all the details of the job they were booking.

We’ve now improved this by providing a quote as soon as the first pick up and delivery points are submitted. And you can keep submitting pick up and delivery points before optimising the route to get the best possible price. Only at that point do we ask for contact and consignment details.

The rest of it works more or less the way it used to. Now that I’ve written that last (and very short) paragraph out I’m wondering how we managed to make something so complex look so simple (it wasn’t). Such is the beauty of software development.

If you have any questions about this (not related to backend and routing etc, secret sauce and all that 😉 do let me know in the comments or get in touch at yo@gophr.com

Tracking everything that is going on all the time related to what you do in any given business is huge pain. Even on a personal level I tend to mute a few of the WhatsApp chats I’m in simply because it can all get to a bit too much. Slack can be a distraction machine like that, however on the balance of things it’s been invaluable to how we work here at Gophr.

It’s no exaggeration to say it’s underpins everything we do. Enabling everyone in the company to understand exactly what’s going on at all times.

I thought it might be useful to share some insight into how we use Slack here at Gophr. How it drives feedback loops and spark off ideas that affect and improve our product development cycles.

We’re still a relatively small team (8 strong) so not all of these approaches may apply to your company. However I think our approach is broad enough that any organisation should find something useful in here.

We’re very lucky in that when we started the company some 2.5 years back when Slack was starting to hit everyone’s radar.  The inherent genius of making a chat platform easy to integrate with other platforms has been well covered elsewhere, contributing to their meteoric success and record-breaking growth.

The timing of Slacks emergence couldn’t have been better for us. It’s become central to Gophr’s company culture since our inception (as I’m sure it has for many others!). I’ll share how our channels are set up, what they are for and list out integrations where relevant. Some of these will be self-evident by the names 

  1. #bugs: tracks bugs or blockers that may reported by couriers and customers alike
  2. #competitors: competitor and industry news, posted by the team
  3. #copy-requests: where the team can request copy to be written. Or they can drop existing copy in here to have it reviewed, proof-read  and signed-off
  4. #customerservice: Intercom integration, gives everyone an oversight as to what’s going on our customer service channels. Also enables us to discuss customer service issues without having to delve into Intercom itself
  5. #design: similar to copy, but for designs. Anything from UI to header images  
  6. #dev: this is very specific to our dev teams conversations. Could be anything from solving a problem to sharing updates
  7. #feedback: gathering customer feedback. This includes customer NPS, customer ratings of couriers and/or apps, feedback delivered via email or over the phone which we keep for posterity along with any courier feedback we receive.
  8. #goodreads: good articles on the industry sector, new tech, internal processes or just generally random stuff that we read and liked
  9. #growth: tracking growth stats for the business. Also good for sharing relevant articles pertaining to growth hacking
  10. #ideas: submitting ideas on improvements. Generally sparked by some sort of interaction with customers, couriers, the back end or other team members
  11. #jobs: this is specific to us and tracks the number of bookings we get in a given day.  Backend integration.
  12. #leads: Pipedrive integration. Keeps track of all our sales leads and what stage they are at in our pipeline
  13. #progress: specific to work, and how much of it is getting done on any given day. Plugged into Asana
  14. #warnings: Back end integration. Server outages, failed customer requests and payment requests and other assorted random stuff. It enables us to make sure we can deal with any situations that may arise

This leads to the entire team understanding what’s going on with the business right across the board. Giving the team a deep understanding of which areas need improvement. And the context to understand where those improvements should sit within our list of priorities. The two channels that are the most valuable from this point of view are #feedback and #ideas.

Everything we’ve shared in those channels has formed the basis for our customer and courier facing product roadmaps, as well as how we see the long-term vision of Gophr playing out. It gives everyone  in the company an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way.

There’s not one us who has yet to share some thought on how to improve our product, current systems and processes for the greater good.

How did this first kick off? We were inspired by a blog post we read on Kissmetrics and latterly Freshdesk and as a result we insisted that everyone in the team including developers should be get involved in solving customer and courier issues so which drive solutions that will save us time in the long-run.

These ideas (and a lot of hard work) have led us to develop a platform that has a level of depth that we don’t believe is rivalled by anyone else in our space (more on that here).

If you have any other suggestions for using Slack let us know in the comments section, email (yo@gophr.com) or Intercom. And if you have any other interesting things to add please share in the comments.

A question we often get asked is: what’s so different about Gophr when compared to every other on-demand delivery service out there?

Well, most other on-demand delivery tech companies out there are B2C delivery solutions, usually focused on delivering food. This requires a totally different approach to the market sector we are focused on; traditional B2B courier services.

In B2C, you generally deal with food deliveries. For obvious reasons, food needs to be delivered immediately. The courier will go to the restaurant, pick up the food while it’s still hot and go straight to the delivery point before it has a chance to get cold. Although perfect for this sector, it does lead to an inefficiency problem which is the #1 nightmare of traditional courier company; ‘dead miles’.

Dead miles problem

Difference between food delivery and traditional courier services

“Dead miles” are miles travelled that have not been paid for by a customer. A dispatcher’s (a.k.a. controller’s) job at courier company is to drive efficiency by linking up jobs going in similar directions to cut as many dead miles as possible. All whilst still hitting their customers required pick up and delivery deadlines.

On top of these service requirements you need to be able to track how much a courier is carrying, versus what he has capacity for.

There are more variables to this, but for simplicity’s sake let’s just stick with those four core principles: distance, direction of travel, deadlines, and volumetric capacity.

We built the Gophr platform to be a B2B delivery solution from the ground up, with these core principles driving the entire system in real-time.

Gophr’s platform takes into account all of the current couriers working on the system, their direction of travel, pick up and delivery deadlines, as well as current and future consignment loads versus their stated capacity. It uses the totality of this information to then choose the most optimal courier for any job at the time it’s required. The system doesn’t just do this at the point before it sends the notification to the most optimal courier, but also during the entire life cycle of any given job.

This opens up a whole world of opportunities, particularly at scale. Both in driving efficiencies in real-time, and greater flexibility in how any item can be delivered.

This is where we see Gophr making a real difference going forward. Not just to couriers and customers, but any business that has a fleet that could do with be optimised for greater efficiency.

We’re very proud to announce our partnership with two highly innovative British Tech companies to undertake the largest air pollution research project ever to take place in London. Gophr is providing cycle couriers with CleanSpace tags and Inmarsat LORA moats to track air pollution levels across the city, enabling them to conduct the most detailed study of air quality levels ever undertaken in the city.

The partnership came about when Lord Drayson of Drayson Technologies and Freevolt – makers of the CleanSpace tag – and myself were introduced through a mutual friend who had the rather brilliant idea of us working together to this end. Inmarsat approached us separately within weeks. We invited everyone around to meet and decided to pool all our resources together to get the best possible outcome.

Results of the study will come about in September. More on that when it comes about. In the meantime if you’d like to take part you can always purchase a CleanSpace tag here, and if you cycle a lot of miles per week please get in touch with us to get involved. There are some pretty snazzy cycle jerseys up for grabs too (see below).

cleanspace-backcleanspace-front

About CleanSpace™

CleanSpace is an IoT sensor network to monitor air pollution. It uses a machine-learning network of connected smart sensors powered by Freevolt to create the world’s most advanced map of air pollution to enable people to “see the air they breathe” and to help enterprises and municipalities implement projects that improve air quality. CleanSpace was designed and built by Drayson Technologies and launched in the UK in Q4 2015.

For more information on CleanSpace please visit:

http://www.ourcleanspace.com

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat employs around 1,600 staff in more than 60 locations around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:ISAT.L).

For more information, please visit:

http://www.inmarsat.com

We’ve not done one of these in a while. Mainly because we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes building awesome stuff and getting ready for what’s coming. More on that in the coming weeks/months.

For now, suffice to say we’ve just released a major new update to our desktop booking app that gives you more access to info around your job and your courier than ever before, so you know exactly what your courier is doing and when.

We were told that this was a very bad idea, and would only result in more complaints and customer service issues. So we only released it to a handful of you, then 10% a week later all the way up to 50% last week. Given we’ve had only positive feedback we’ve decided to put it on general release …at least until the point that everyone starts kicking off as initially predicted, but we’re feeling pretty good about this not happening. If you need to get a hold of us just hit us up on Live Chat anyway.

So why is this update any good?

Well, everything looks a bit smarter for starters, but here are more details:

  • Total oversight on courier jobs: more info and context on what is happening with your courier, and their pick ups and deliveries. You also get a snazzy animation to show you their route and direction of travel.
  • ETA’s are back!: Now that we are giving you full oversight over your couriers pick ups and deliveries, we can now bring back ETA’s as it you now have context as to why ETA’s can jump up or down all of a sudden.
  • Improved menu drawer: so it’s a bit more obvious what section you are in. It also takes up less space so you can look at more of the map as well as our brand new…
  • Courier info drawer: we should probably have a sexier name for this feature but it is what it is. Snazzy new drawer on the right hand side which houses info on average acceptance times for vehicles on that day once you book, and then once your courier accepts you get all their contact details, as well as info on when your job was accepted, picked up and delivered. If you cancel a job we ask you why in here too. Helps improve the service and that.
  • More couriers everywhere!: We now display our couriers at all times. We’ve also improved the courier icons so they now no longer look like grey nipples. They look more like tyres …mainly because all our vehicles have them.

As ever, if you have any feedback do let us know. You can always hit us up on live chat. We love hearing from you.

Check out our new desktop app here

Okay. Let’s get straight to it. Shiny new website
  • ‘Get a Quote’ now pull through to booking so if you get a quote on the homepage you don’t have to enter it again on booking
  • new dedicated Business section in which we talk about our Commercial API and integration capabilities (sexy, we know)
  • the sexy video background with the drone shots that we used to get lots of compliments on is no more (booo!) It was a little heavy on data so we got rid
  • dedicated courier section
  New, improved booking site
  • The feature almost everyone has been asking us since day one: ‘Favourites’ is now live! Every time you book you can save an address, contact name or business as a favourite for later use direct on the booking screen
  • Minor improvements to the ‘Book a job’ flow. We’ve moved stuff around to make it more useful. We also added a label specifically for ‘floors’ within buildings as entering the floor number ahead of the address would make Google Maps freak out a bit.
  • Improved ‘Team’ section to bring it into line with ‘Favourites’ so it all feels nice and tidy and makes sense as a unified whole
  • Improved ‘Active jobs’ section so you can tab between active jobs and draft jobs
  • Improvements to ‘Job History’ section so you can get access to your invoices and reports more easily
  • Minor changes to the ‘Profile’ section that were annoying Seb so had to go – ‘Payment details’ section is now a lot tidier, particularly if you have lots of teams and lots of payment methods. No longer looks like a really long list of random letters and numbers
  How to use the new Favourites feature When you hit the ‘favourite’ star we’ll prompt you to define which category you want to save your favourite under. Next time you book simply type in the address you are looking for and your favourites will come in up in your list of options ahead of Google Maps search results. Your five most recently used favourites will also sit under the search bar for your use. That’s it! Dead easy. Let us know what you think by getting in touch at yo@gophr.com or by hitting the chat button on the site. We have more announcements coming over the next few weeks.
Is it possible to have a startup without knowing what ProductHunt is? I don’t know, but with a staggering number of eyeballs on the site every day, no startup can afford to miss out on a shot at ProductHunt fame – we at Gophr are no exception. With a major announcement on the way a few weeks ago, we began to look at our options for getting press. We worked out who would be most interested in our announcement, how to get in touch with them and how many readers we would reach. More importantly, we got our heads down and started making improvements to our user experience, adding some essential features and squashing bugs. We wanted everything to go off without a hitch. more
Note from Seb: The first courier I ever met in London after I first had the idea for Gophr was Clarence Takunda Chodofuka. I got introduced to him after walking into Full City cycles asking them who the best person to speak to would be. We’ve now had the good fortune of being able to hire Clarence to come work for Gophr. Four weeks ago he got into a crash whilst on the job so we brought him in to work in the office, to monitor at how our automated dispatch system worked and to give us feedback on it. Whilst he was there he offered to write a blog post on what it’s like to work with the Gophr system and the glimpse it’s given him into future of couriering. Here it is…
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  September 2015, 12 months on from the success of the Long Live the South Bank Campaign. Now that the Totally Thames festival is under way we decided it was a good time to look into one of the most iconic and memorable places on the river and the story of its salvation: London’s South Bank undercroft. Jasper; pro-skater and Gophr courier, sat down with us to tell us a bit about what made a group of skaters unite to save their space. Read on to find out what made a vacant space become one of the most recognised places in London.   more