There has been a high demand for an efficient and reliable delivery service as well as a growing trend of at-home shopping and it is under this banner that oDeliver was born.
The enterprise, which was launched in March 2021 during the height of COVID-19 pandemic, is a technology company that focuses on e-commerce logistics, and its vision is to build the infrastructure for e-commerce logistics within the Caribbean so the next generation of entrepreneurs can have access to millions more customers.
So exactly who is behind oDeliver... their names are Jonathan Clayton and Aaron deBourg are both 35 years old.
Clayton said they both went to Fatima College together and remained friends through university.
He told Business Guardian on Monday that in 2019, deBourg and himself started to explore the possibility of working together on a technology company.
“We decided to try building a website to sell health and wellness products from local businesses across Trinidad. That was very difficult at the time as it was pre-COVID and not many people demanded delivery like they do today.”
Clayton also said they had a lot of problems dealing with existing local courier companies to get these products delivered to customers as they took way too long to deliver, sometimes five to seven days, and the process to manage these orders was very manual and painstaking.
He explained when the pandemic struck the duo was forced to cease operations due to poor delivery service providers and little demand for health and wellness products. Their only form of income was from events, which was forced to shut down.
One day sitting in Aaron’s mother’s living room, a defeated Jonathan said let’s give this one more try but focus on logistics only. Let’s use this pandemic as a way to help businesses survive by building a platform to help them get their products delivered to their customers efficiently.
“We stopped selling local businesses’ products and focused on delivering their products alone instead. We took a day to feel sorry for ourselves and went straight to work on building what we now know as oDeliver. After a year of programming and getting the business ready, we launched oDeliver in March 2021 and we have not looked back since,” Clayton remembered.
He revealed that they are both passionate about entrepreneurship as the business partners believe many problems within the society can be solved through innovative thinkers willing to experiment.
Questioned as to who some of their clients are, deBourg said some larger brick-and-mortar businesses such as Francis Fashions, retail warehouse, and Jays Toy Box.
De Bourg said the company also serves some smaller online businesses such as Jamars Marketing, which sells a variety of consumer items, Central Electronics which sells small electronic items, Up Image, fashion accessories retailer and Lulu’s Closet which sells fashionable clothing.
“I would say our platform predominantly consists of small to medium-sized businesses that operate online and are doing well,” deBourg mentioned.
Laura Pathink, owner of Lulu’s Closet/Lulu’s Shoes said “For 2 and a half years I have trusted oDeliver to deliver my customers’ packages. To date, this has been one of the best decisions I have made for my business. I’m constantly amazed by the initiative oDeliver takes to make the delivery process as seamless and quick as possible for both merchants and customers. I have recommended oDeliver to numerous colleagues and would encourage anyone with SME businesses to utilise their services.
Performance of the company
DeBourg indicated that in their first month in business, they did 600 deliveries and this month (November) oDeliver are on track to do on average 25000 deliveries.
“In total, we have completed just over 300,000 deliveries (306,000 to be exact and this can be verified through our platform). By the end of the year, we expect to hit 350,000 deliveries and are on track to do this. We have also onboarded over 5,000 merchants to date which can also be verified through our platform. These statistics show Trinidad has a growing appetite for convenience and delivery with many small businesses opting to sell online and traditional brick and mortar businesses implementing delivery as part of their offering,” the business partner revealed.
He said the delivery company, whose warehouse is situated in Chaguanas, has technology to manage the entire logistics process.
In explaining how the platform works, deBourg said the process starts when a merchant enters a request for a shipment on the merchant portal.
He noted that once the order is created, a driver is dispatched to collect the item by using the driver portal. Then the driver scans the package, and automated messages are sent to both the customer and the merchant confirming the transaction.
De Bourg outlined that the package is brought back to oDeliver sorting centre where it is scanned in and placed in a zone for delivery the next day.
“An overnight team picks and packs the bins and the driver delivers the packages to the customer the next day. When this package reaches the customer, they can pay via cash, point of sale terminal, or digital link. After this is done, our back-end system manages the rest and ensures that the shipment is accounted for and all payments are remitted to the merchants on time and accurately.
“Our system is not only efficient but it also helps merchants manage their shipments and payments all in one place. We also launched one of the first-ever Application Programming Interfaces (API ) integrations for websites.
Asked whether the logistics company has plans to expand in the region, Clayton said “yes” talks are progressing and the technology is being built to facilitate inter-island online commerce.
In fact, he said the platform currently offers fulfillment to any regional retail business that would like to get access to customers in Trinidad and it can store the items in its fulfillment centre.
“They can enter the shipment through the merchant portal and we can deliver it in a day. This significantly lowers operational costs for businesses that want to get access to a new market.”
On Friday, Agostini’s Ltd and Term Finance acquired 20 per cent each of oDeliver.
Asked what made oDeliver enter this agreement, Clayton said a year ago the business partners were looking at options for a strategic partner in the business.
“We had other potential investors but none came close to the value that these two companies brought. The Term Finance team is young, agile, and technology-focused and Agostini’s is a huge legacy business with decades of operational excellence. They both have a regional footprint and a lot of their existing businesses can be integrated with the oDeliver core offering. We think this is a dream partnership come true and our gaze is now focused on regional expansion,” he disclosed.
In terms of growth, deBourg said the company has grown month over month since its inception.
“We expect this to continue in 2024 as we continue to push for aggressive growth. We have a suite of services we are going to offer in 2024, including payment services, SME loans, instant deliveries, large-scale storage and fulfillment and much more. We are focused on bringing tremendous value to every business in our ecosystem,” deBourg stated.
As it pertains to the number of employees, he noted that oDeliver provides income to over 155 people.
“We currently have 35 full-time employees and over 120 independent drivers on the roster. We now run a full 24-hour operation to ensure maximum operational efficiency, which requires three shifts daily. Do note the drivers are rotated daily and based on the demand for the period.”