Rotterdam-based Coolblue, an e-commerce company with nine physical stores in the Netherlands and Belgium, announced that it has acquired Delft-based ENERGIIQ portfolio company Plotwise, an AI-based route optimisation platform for last-mile home delivery.
Plotwise claims to realise up to 20 per cent CO2 reduction per delivered package. To further scale up, the company received an investment from the Dutch energy innovation fund ENERGIIQ in 2020. Coolblue is now taking over Plotwise completely.
Shaping the future of same and next day delivery
Founded in 2018 by Michel Boerrigter, Plotwise is a last-mile-focused solution that leverages ML and AI technology to improve routes and deliveries for organisations that are ready to switch from cost optimisation to service optimisation.
According to Plotwise, the last step of the logistics chain – the last-mile delivery, forms a major bottleneck for the e-commerce market with about 30-55 per cent of the total delivery costs. By analysing data, Plotwise can adjust capacity in real-time to avoid empty trucks, plot more efficient routes, and gather feedback from drivers to further optimise the system.
Plotwise’s planning software is currently used by Coolblue, PostNL and Red je Pakketje to plan parcel delivery in a smart and customer-oriented way. This way, the Delft-based company is making home deliveries safer, sustainable and efficient.
Plotwise makes planning part of the ordering process
Traditional, delivery services mainly used static planning. This involved determining the routes a few times a year based on zip code areas. If the quantity of packages changes, the route does not change with it. “This traditional delivery planning works well for business-to-business transport, but is less suitable for delivery to the end customer,” explains Boerrigter.
“There are too many fluctuations and dependencies, making the puzzle too large. This quickly creates large differences between quiet and busier moments, resulting in inefficient routes or time pressure,” adds Boerrigter. That’s why Plotwise is bringing the schedule forward so that it becomes part of the ordering process.
For example, if you order something from an online store, you are immediately given a number of delivery options based on all relevant factors, such as traffic at that time, already scheduled deliveries in the area and the most suitable vehicle, such as a van or electric cargo bike. Boerrigter says, “In this way, we make consumers aware of the possibilities and consequences, we can better influence behaviour and thus steer them towards favourable choices.”
Coolblue claims to be the biggest online retailer in consumer electronics in the Netherlands and in Belgium. It has its own customer service, delivery service, installation service, repair service, and physical stores.
In 2021, Coolblue achieved a turnover of €2.3B and an operating result (adjusted EBITDA) of €91M. The firm has backed more than 350 online shops and seven physical stores.
ENERGIIQ provides various tailor-made financial instruments including shares and loans. The firm claims to provide funds to SMEs that commercialise their proven energy innovation. Its investment level is between €200K and €4.3M, whereby ENERGIIQ takes on a maximum of 50 per cent of the total investment needed and 50 per cent must come from private co-investors.
Earlier this year, ENERGIIQ portfolio company Exasun entered into an international strategic partnership with Wienerberger, and Involtum partnered with easy2pay.
Realising this, ENERGIIQ fund manager, Rafael Koene, says, “It’s great that our companies are doing so well. There are such pioneering technologies for the energy transition in Zuid-Holland. We scout these and take them to the next phase. That’s how we really accelerate the energy transition.”