Interview with Lorenzo Maggioni, CEO of GEL Proximity, the startup dedicated to Proximity logistics services.
More and more often in the immediate future it will happen to pick up products ordered on the Internet at a collection point or a locker ( automated collection points based on high technology, but very simple to use). Today, in fact, consumers expect faster and more frequent deliveries and this is why last mile logistic proposals have become fundamental, also offering a double challenge. The first is the economical one, for all the retailers who want to take advantage of the e-commerce channel while the second concerns the environmental impact. The best solution to make last mile delivery more efficient and sustainable, economically and environmentally, is called GEL Proximity.
What’s GEL Proximity
GEL Proximity is the first platform entirely dedicated to Proximity Logistics. The Software is a technological connector that offers thousands of physical Pick-up Points and Lockers, all managed by the main Italian players operating in last mile Logistics. The company’s goals are the sustainability and the growth of the e-commerce channel, demonstrating a particular attention to the environment, urban logistics and the reduction of emissions. All by favoring the system of delivery and collection of boxes. The platform also helps e-commerce stores to manage the complexities of the various Proximity’s networks, optimizing the entire shipping process, from the automatic printing of labels to that of shipping manifest, including tracking status monitoring and the sending of personalized notifications with the company’s logo.
Merchants can choose which Proximity Networks and which couriers to use, based on prices, services and capillarity.They can also define the picking times for each warehouse, customize the map at checkout, enable insurance on shipping and stock services at the Point and much more!
To learn more about the project, we interviewed Lorenzo Maggioni, CEO of GEL Proximity.
Hello Lorenzo, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for the time you are dedicating to this interview. Tell us more about GEL Proximity.
How and when was the idea born?
The idea was born in pre-Covid times, from the experience of the founders in the field of Logistics, e-commerce and technology, who have identified a clear need also thanks to the solid relationships with the market operators. Damiano Frosi, Director of the Contract Logistics Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, and I, with a strong experience in an international Logistics Company, moved our first steps together in 2019 by studying the main logistical reasons for the abandoning of online shopping carts. The analysis turned into a project and has been charged with awareness thanks to the victory of Switch2Product, a renowned startup competition organized by Polihub and Deloitte. Logistics operators, last-mile networks, institutions, marketplaces and the main online stores immediately demonstrated a particular attention to GEL Proximity, which is shaped by the needs expressed by the market itself.
How did you launch your startup? Did you use crowdfunding campaigns?
The acceleration process at Polihub was crucial to become aware of the potential of the entrepreneurial idea. We strongly believed in the network and in the tools that Politecnico di Milano could provide. In July 2020, GEL Proximity was established as a private capital company and has been recognized as one of the prestigious spin-offs of Politecnico di Milano: this gave us the opportunity to work side by side with researchers and in particular with Digital Innovation Observatories. The synergies and the network have always been for us elements of great value that have allowed GEL Proximity to be the first technological point of reference for the Proximity Logistics in Italy. The project immediately took off thanks to the interest that many professionals and industry companies have shown: the first capital raising was such a success that naturally led to open a second one after only few months, due to the many requests received. 2020 closed with half a million euros collected in Club Deal mode and on the 9th March 2021 the technological solution was officially presented to the Italian market on the online store of Save the Duck, a well-known Italian brand that has in its DNA the attention to the environment and sustainability issues.
How is GEL Proximity based on the concept of environmental sustainability?
The technology created by GEL Proximity helps stores and operators to streamline deliveries by optimizing relationships and solving all the critical moments of the last mile management process. The impact of the project is not only social but also environmental, thanks to the push that GEL Proximity can give towards the adoption of the logistics policies of the first and last mile. A solution able to replace traditional delivery at home or office that, in recent years, produced too high pollution levels and overloaded the urban fabric of cities. The pandemic has acted as a process accelerator, not only resulting in an explosion of online sales, but also creating the need to set up a series of services to govern processes, the explosion of volumes and the resulting environmental impact. Sustainability is now a fundamental factor in the purchase choices of digital consumers: 7 Italians out of 10 are increasingly attentive to environmental issues, while 80% believe that companies should consider the issue of sustainability in their business choices. Logistics can no longer make exceptions and it is now more important than ever to rely on innovative technological solutions such as GEL Proximity. Our help to the environment is mainly evident in the ability that GEL has to zero missed deliveries at home, thanks to the support of thousands of Pick-up Points and Lockers active throughout the country. In addition, the company offers a package collection system that ensures the efficiency of the routes and the means used for last mile deliveries.
What are the advantages that GEL Proximity offers?
GEL places at the heart of its project an innovative and sustainable solution to address last mile logistics issues. Today, the entire supply chain, from producers to consumers, demands sustainability without compromise. GEL offers a green alternative through a widespread network of Pick up Points throughout Italy, managed by different operators but integrated into a single platform. Our technology is based on a new concept of omni-channel and “customer-centric” logistics. Thanks to GEL, ithe consumer can choose the preferred Pick-up-Drop off Point within his “daily Proximity”, thus building a personalized shopping or reverse experience. The flexibility of technology is one of the strengths of the project: any merchant can customize proximity services on the platform with extreme flexibility. The integration process is very simple thanks to the availability of our API libraries, but also thanks to the various e-commerce Plugins developed. Our Plugins allow the Italian SMEs to download and use the services of GEL Proximity with modules “ready to use”.
Goals for the future?
As you know, on April 29th GEL Proximity became part of the MBE Worldwide group through the sale of majority shares. Therefore, there is a lot of ferment, a lot of work to do and good intentions for the future. This corporate event will allow us to accelerate the process of internationalization of our technological solution, opening new European markets thanks to the support of local networks of MBE. This is the main goal for our future, obviously in addition to the continuous development of technological innovation that has always characterized our project.
Curiosity: Would you like to tell us something about the final choice of the name?
We have started talking about proximity in pre-pandemic times when this term was not really used in Italy and there were no particular needs in the behavior of consumers . Even online searches related to the term Proximity were almost nil, but we strongly believed that Proximity services would become a central point in Logistics and in user experience. And so we have owned this term by registering a brand that brought with it the concept of fluidifying and of facilitator. This is how GEL Proximity was born, almost spontaneously.