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July 25, 2023

Taking Last-Mile Delivery International with Dragonfly Shipping: 2 years later

Intelcom has gone international, and as the first-ever Canadian company to take last-mile delivery outside the Americas, we are navigating exciting yet uncharted waters.

If you haven't yet heard, Intelcom's subsidiary Dragonfly Shipping recently celebrated its two-year anniversary of providing high-volume daily delivery service in Australia. That's right – customers looking for alternatives for Aussie buyers now have the power to choose.

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The Same, But Different

A growing e-commerce company in the Oceania region brought the idea of international expansion to the strategy table at Intelcom HQ. With the opportunity to explore this region, we were excited to invest in our newest sister company: Dragonfly Shipping.

Although there are many similarities between Australia and Canada, differing legislation and population distribution made the flexible model vital for a successful launch.

"One of the unique challenges here is that our population is incredibly dense in metro areas. Australia is a very big place, very similar to Canada and the US, but is much less connected in service logistics networks. That's one of the challenges with managing logistics in Australia – the tyranny of distance – and all of the things that come with that, like the complex regulation associated with road transport, heavy truck transport and the labour market." shares Nick Underhill, General Manager at Dragonfly.

"With Australian logistics, there is a heavily entrenched national carrier that is legislatively obligated to reach every single mailbox in Australia. The opportunities, I think, are enormous in providing another service and another option to our customers."

Alain Armstrong, Executive VP of Operations at Intelcom, reflects on the expansion, "Launching in another country thousands of kilometres from Canada was a big challenge. Doing it in the middle of the pandemic was an even bigger one." he goes on, "The decision to move forward was made very quickly. We gave the go-ahead in December and launched the first week of April."

The vision was to provide customers with an alternative to the current national carrier network – one that was based on service and value. Being competitive in the market allows Dragonfly to keep service levels high, a goal that is foundational to the organization.

How to pull it off? By consulting the Intelcom recipe book, of course!

"We have the recipe."

"Once we got started, things started rolling. We were only delivering around 1200 packages per day at first. I remember we got plenty of great comments because we were the first carrier to deliver on weekends and holidays. It was unheard of." Says Alain. "We said to ourselves "We have the recipe, and this will work"."

Starting with one station in Brisbane, Dragonfly Shipping quickly scaled operations to include service in South East Queensland and the North Coast.

"We landed and expanded really quickly." Nick notes.

Further growth into Sydney followed, but the impacts of the pandemic and the distance from Intelcom HQ required the operations team to be agile and adaptable as they evolved. The rules of the game were changing quickly, and the ability to support customers while ensuring that regulations were followed was paramount.

"Our DNA and our nature is to be innovative and entrepreneurial." Says Nick, "For us, it was about finding ways to continue to grow even in the face of adversity. What has unlocked our potential in terms of our revenue growth and our parcel network has been our exceptional service to our customers. Agility was key to us being able to grab opportunities when they presented themselves, but also to navigate through really challenging times to support our customers."

From Start-Up to Scale Up

When asked about Dragonfly's goals for the coming year, Nick Underhill described what he liked to call "going from start-up to scale-up", a strategic direction that can be achieved thanks to the past two years of solidifying processes and systems. With customers that are satisfied with the service, Dragonfly now turns its mind to further customer acquisitions.

As for the next five years, the sky's the limit.

"The model is absolutely deployable around the world. At the five-year mark, we're going to be in a really interesting spot to be able to offer our products and services to our customers, as consumers in Australia get a little bit more savvy with how they order things online and how they get things delivered. Everything is on the table." Says Nick.

Intelcom's Alain Armstrong concurs, "Our client base is growing because our product is working. We were sure this was the right place and the right product, even with the challenges. We know we're there for a reason, and we're there to stay."