Israel’s postal service, which is trying to shed its snail-mail image by setting up an innovation center for tech entrepreneurship, has teamed up with Swiss Post to jointly scout for startups in the trade and logistics field.
The partnership seeks to identify tech solutions to the common challenges facing postal companies worldwide in the fields of online commerce and logistics.
The two firms are calling upon entrepreneurs, developers and startups to propose tech solutions to help boost online and offline services, including for the return of packages, service management, regulating queues and peak deliveries; setting up unmanned stores; logistics, robotics, and customs clearance; and artificial intelligence, digital services and automation, the postal company said in a statement on Thursday.
The move is part of the Israel Postal Company’s bid to use technology and international networks to help the organization undergo a modernization makeover. Last year the firm, notorious for its poor customer service and long lines, with letters arriving late or not at all, said it was setting up an innovation center in Tel Aviv and is looking to create an infrastructure of advanced solutions to help the firm in its core operations, online trading and financial services.
After an initial screening and selection process by Israel Post, suitable startups will be invited to present their ventures to the managements of both posts at the beginning of September, the Thursday statement said. The selected companies will be invited to carry out pilot projects with Israel Post and be part of the Israel Post’s innovation center, which is currently being built in Tel Aviv. The project chosen by Swiss Post will be invited to a workshop in Switzerland, and the possibility of carrying out a funded pilot project with Swiss Post will be considered.
“All the postal companies around the world face similar challenges in the field of online commerce,” said Danny Goldstein, the CEO of Israel Post, in the statement. They need to ensure they have a comprehensive logistic system to provide a wide range of services to homes, while making sure delivery times are short and customer experience is good.
In 2018, the Israeli postal service delivered 65 million packages in Israel and the numbers are increasing, he said. “The cooperation between Israel Post and Swiss Post is a great opportunity for Israeli startups to get to know postal companies closely and work together with us and with the Swiss Post, which is considered to be one of the most advanced logistics companies in the world.”
With 58,000 employees, Swiss Post is the third largest employer in Switzerland. Apart from the traditional postal sector, the company deals with financial products, bus services, electronic identification systems, electronic voting solutions. The Swiss firm is also the owner of logistics companies in Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, England, Singapore and the United States, and owns part of the shipping company Asendia, with Groupe La Poste France.
“Cooperation with Swiss Post is part of Israel Post’s development process and goal to collaborate with different companies in Israel and around the world so that a cooperative business environment is created for dealing with all types of commerce — retail and online — and combining many other services such as smart transport, banking,” said Maya Calderon, VP of Business Development and Innovation at the Israel Postal Company, who is behind the firm’s innovation push.
In 2018, Swiss Post distributed 1,898 billion letters and 138 million packages, the statement said.
“Thanks to collaborations with startups and industry leaders we can take advantage of the latest technologies and business models at a very early stage and hold our position at the top in our business areas,” said Claudia Pletscher, head of Development & Innovation at Swiss Post. “We look for those strategic partnerships not only in Switzerland, but also in the most important innovation centers in the world. In this respect, Israel is an interesting innovation ecosystem.”