It was a dark evening, when we turned the corner into a nondescript street in Berlin Weißensee. 50 meters later we stopped at a crowd of about 20 people in front of a likewise nondescript building. Some persons were chatting with each other and the atmosphere was a bit rapt. No – Ballou PR has not been involved into dubious businesses: Instead, we had just arrived at one of the Zalando warehouses from where the same day delivery specialist Liefery, one of our clients, delivers the shipments ordered just a few hours ago by online shoppers living in Berlin.
Few moments after our arrival we turned around and suddenly stood in front of Nils Fischer from Liefery, who warmly welcomed us and led us into the backyard. He had invited us to take a tour with one of the Liefery-drivers in order to better understand their daily work. In the middle of the warehouse a man was standing in front of his notebook, behind him trolleys with 10 to 30 parcels each, all branded striking with the well-known and ubiquitous Zalando-typography.
„At the beginning of our cooperation with Zalando, here has always been great chaos, because every driver wanted to have his trolley first to leave the yard as soon as possible. This is why we introduced the rule that a maximum of only one person is allowed to enter the warehouse at the same time“, Leo, another Liefery-employee who coordinated the action, explained to us. A soft feeling of being VIP crept up in us, because we three were actually standing in the middle of the room. But only seconds later the VIP-feeling turned into a feeling of just breaking the rules when a man told us to leave the warehouse instantly, because now the distribution of the parcels to the drivers should start. We are at work here, no exceptions for us!
Every driver stepped separately in front of the man with the notebook – the distributor – and received the area where he had to deliver this evening and the trolley with the corresponding parcels. The cooperation between Liefery and Zalando is still in the testing phase. Every day Zalando chooses a few recipients who will receive their shipment on the same day they ordered - in the evening between 7 and 9 o’clock. Most recipients don’t know about it yet, but receive an email announcing their same day shipment. We were assigned to “number 3“ who turned out to be a nice and chatty man named Pascal who was born in Berlin and therefore knows the city like the back of his pocket. Our allocated part of town: Prenzlauer Berg. After Pascal had sorted the parcels according to the route and had stowed them in the boot, we finally hit the road being very excited.
Only 10 minutes later we stopped at the first recipient’s house and rang the bell. A man answered via the intercom. “It’s Zalando, your package has arrived“, Pascal said and the door was opened. And you know what? – The apartment was on the ground floor, no stairs, double happiness for us! The recipient did not really seem to be surprised by the immediate delivery of his order but there was not much time to think about it because the next parcel waited to be delivered. No rest. We went back to the car, Pascal checked out where to drive next – Liefery provides an app that shows the drivers the addresses and calculates the best route – and started the engine again. Within the next hour we fastened our seat belts uncountable times, rang several bells, entered as many different hallways as an average person sees in one year and delivered one package after the other. Most recipients were positively surprised about the late visit and asked Pascal for which parcel service he worked for, some just accepted and confirmed their order and vanished behind their doors and some have not been at home, but could pick up their parcel at a neighbors.
“Sometimes curious things happen or extraordinary people open the door – but most of the time everything runs smoothly”, we learned from Pascal who found the job at ebay Classifieds. Even parking tickets are an exception. As Pascal told us, the most difficult thing is finding the right house numbers. Because Berlin has a lot of long roads and house numbers are sometimes arranged consecutively and sometimes divided by even and odd numbers. We thanked Pascal and left him after one hour of exciting delivery-experience in Berlin. Now we not only know what challenges the Liefery drivers face every day. We also gained a better understanding of our clients everyday business and can use our experiences and impressions for Liefery’s PR.