Fit for Purpose E-commerce Delivery – Our Investment in Relay

We lead the $10m seed funding round for Relay, a tech-enabled delivery company built for e-commerce

by Philipp Werner and Daria Gneusheva

In today’s fast-growing e-commerce landscape, retailers around the world are eagerly waiting for parcel services to catch up. With the global online retail market reaching $6 trillion, 5,000 parcels are delivered every second, driving the carrier parcel shipping market to an impressive $492 billion in global revenue.

While the e-commerce revolution has led to changing retailer needs and customer demands, delivery companies need to change their supply chains to meet these requirements.

As we spoke with industry leaders, it became clear that incumbents in the sector are falling short in two critical areas. First, they struggle to keep up with the pace and high turnover of e-commerce, especially during the holiday season, leaving customers dissatisfied. Second, they rely on high CapEx legacy infrastructure that hampers their ability to improve margins at scale.

During the wave of indistinguishable last-mile players some time ago, we came to believe that the winner would have to:

  • Tackle the space end-to-end, from first to last mile, and do so in a tech-first way, removing any reliance on legacy providers and high-CapEx structures;
  • Create density on the customer side, capturing a large share of the retailer’s wallet in high-density areas;
  • And most importantly, have a team bold enough to rebuild a century-old industry from the ground up.

From the moment we met Jonathan Jenssen and Nicole Mazza almost two years ago, we were struck by the clarity of their vision and their exceptional ability to execute. With Relay, the team has rebuilt the shipping value chain from the ground up, specifically for the e-commerce space.

Relay provides full-stack, first-to-last-mile parcel delivery from e-commerce retailers’ warehouses to consumers’ doorsteps.

Relay founders Nicole Mazza and Jonathan Jenssen
Relay founders Nicole Mazza and Jonathan Jenssen

Inspired by the proven success of achieving operational efficiencies in advanced Asian markets using an Uber-like approach to delivery, Relay’s innovative model is based on a managed network of asset-free hyper-local partners. Relay distributes parcels as efficiently and sustainably as possible from regional depots to a network of high street partners, such as convenience stores close to customers, which act as hyper-local parcel depots, saving on expensive suburban warehouses. For the last mile, Relay then routes deliveries to local couriers using smaller cars and bicycles, reducing transport costs, delivery times, and emissions.

For retailers using Relay, deliveries are faster, cheaper, more reliable, and significantly reduce carbon emissions. The company’s routing technology matches couriers with routes in real-time and can combine deliveries and returns on a single route. Local couriers benefit from a more flexible working environment, earning more and delivering locally without having to collect parcels from out-of-town warehouses. Consumers can expect complete convenience with guaranteed next-day delivery and real-time tracking.

JJ and Nikki have extensive experience in the last-mile sector, having grown Stuart’s UK business to a turnover of $400m as General Manager UK and Commercial Director before DPD Group acquired it. Together with their CTO Jeremy, who led technology teams at Stripe and Meta, they have assembled an exceptional team of individuals with backgrounds from renowned companies such as Deliveroo, Zapp, Evri, and DPD.

Today, Relay works with some of the UK’s largest retailers, including JD Sports and The Hut Group, and is launching with many more.

Relay’s end-to-end value chain focus, asset-light model, and unwavering tech-first approach set it apart from both the incumbents and other startups in the space. With an impressive team at the helm, a relentless focus on unit economics and operational excellence, and key partnerships with leading e-commerce retailers, we believe Relay has what it takes to radically disrupt the parcel delivery status quo.