A case study
- Who: Wolt food delivery platform (Discover and get great food)
- We’re renting cargo bikes to their courier partners for food and grocery deliveries in city center
- Where: Vilnius, Lithuania
- Current vehicles: anything of their courier partners’ choosing (bikes, cars, e-scooters, Vok e-cargo bikes, etc.)
- Voking since: August 2021
- Wolt Lithuania became interested in Vok Bikes after seeing how well they performed in Tallinn, Estonia despite the extreme weather. Courier partners using bikes could stay on the streets, not get cold, have a roof over their heads and yet maintain the flexibility of bikes.
- Vilnius was a great match for e-cargo bikes since it’s increasingly bike-friendly. This also means car traffic restrictions in the Old Town, which gives bikes and e-bikes a significant advantage.
- Vok offers a full-service rental to Wolt courier partner community – the bikes are branded with Wolt logos, but courier partners book, rent and pay directly to Vok.
- Wolt courier partners using Voks are more effective than courier one’s using regular bikes or even cars. They can make more deliveries and earn more money per hour compared to all other vehicles.
- Cargo bikes with service hubs are the way to go. There’s a lot of research about last-mile delivery and cargo bikes are good for the environment, the business, and the people on the streets.
Wolt is a delivery platform that helps hungry people find great food and either pick it up themself or have it delivered by one of Wolt’s delivery partners. Today, they also offer Wolt delivery experience from grocery stores, retail shops, or boutiques. Wolt launched in the summer of 2015 in Helsinki, Finland together with ten restaurants. Since then they’ve expanded to 23 countries and more than 200 cities, serving millions of customers together with 125 000 courier partners as well as 55 000 restaurant and retail partners.
In August 2021, Wolt Vilnius partnered up with Vok so their courier partners could rent e-cargo bikes directly from Vok. In this case study, we take a look at how courier rental of Vok cargo bikes worked out in Vilnius and how it helped raise both courier efficiency and earnings.
Bike-friendly Vilnius is a match to electric cargo bikes
Julius Kalvaitis, the operations manager in Wolt Lithuania says that they first heard about Vok from their Tallinn colleagues. In the winter of 2020, Wolt Tallinn had the opportunity to try out 1-2 Vok bikes and they brought some interesting results: “It was wintertime, super cold and snowy. Usually, most of the bikers just put their bikes away for the winter. Only really committed bikers work in the wintertime since you need special clothes and such. Vok bikes showed really good results despite the extreme weather. Courier partners using Voks could stay on the streets, not get cold, have a roof over their heads and yet maintain the flexibility of bikes.”
Wolt offers only a delivery platform and doesn’t own any vehicles themselves. Their courier partner community consists of independent partners who use all kinds of transportation from bikes and e-scooters to cars. Yet Wolt saw the partnership with Vok as an opportunity to offer their courier partners even more flexibility, e.g. for when their car is in maintenance or for courier partners without a personal vehicle. Julius adds: “We just didn’t see any possible downsides and wanted to try it out in Lithuania as well.”
Currently, Wolt operates in 5 cities in Lithuania: Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Vilnius, and Šiauliai. After having a chat with the Vok team, they figured Vilnius – the capital and largest city of Lithuania – was the way to go. Over the recent years, Vilnius has become increasingly bike-friendly. From July 2020, Vilnius also cut car traffic in the Old Town. Now cars can navigate the city center only in one-way loops with one main entrance and one or two exits, and a 20 km/h speed limit. This should reduce transit traffic and improve liveability.
Obviously, such restrictions brought additional challenges to Old Town venues and courier partners using cars. As the regulations didn’t affect bike drivers, offering year-round biking options became increasingly relevant.
Setting up a Vok hub in Vilnius
In August 2021, Vok started offering a full-service rental to Wolt courier partner community – the bikes are branded with Wolt logos, but courier partners book, rent and pay directly to Vok. Courier partners choose and book a suitable time slot, and pick up and return the bikes via service hubs – the rental and repair place for Vok cargo bikes. Vok also offers around-the-clock support and there’s always a backup bike available in the hub – even in case the courier partner has just drained their battery, they can just hop on another bike without wasting time.
Julius commends that Vok set up the hub very smoothly: “The Vok team handled it all super efficiently. They found one of the best places possible for the service hub – very close to the city center and easy to access both by car or bike.”
Vok held an introductory event for the courier partners at the hub where they could get to know the bikes, rental options, etc. Many courier partners attended, tested out the cargo bikes, and instantly made bookings for actual deliveries. Julius says that after a couple of weeks, they already started seeing the snowball effect: “Courier partners using the bikes told others how they liked it and how much they earned. Of course, we also communicate the collaboration to our courier partner community – for example, share additional information or promotional discounts exclusive to our community.”
E-cargo bikes worked out even better than expected in Vilnius
Julius says that even though Vok bikes lived up to their expectations, the utilization of cargo bikes in Vilnius even exceeded them: “We actually had lower expectations based on other countries. Today, we’re 3 months in and the usage is still going up. There are no vacancies in the hub and all Voks are booked 2 weeks in advance. This definitely is the right place and the right vehicle for our community.”
“We can see that courier partners using Voks are more effective than the ones using regular bikes or even cars. They can make more deliveries and earn more money per hour compared to all other vehicles,” commends Julius.
Wolt is happy with the results and so are the courier partners: “Vok works well with wind, snow or rain. Our courier partners say that it’s easier to do deliveries and both the maneuvering and capacity are really good. With a bike and a backpack, courier partners can’t handle bigger orders, e.g. a 30-40 pizza delivery to a party or someone’s weekly groceries. There’s also less physical strain – there’s a big hill in the center of Vilnius and Voks take it in a stride. All in all, courier partners can stay online longer, and ramp up their earnings.”
Julius notes that the Vok team is constantly innovating and improving the bikes: “Innovations are coming every second month. From a courier partner perspective, we have some ideas on how to improve the usability even further. They’ve mentioned battery life, so they could be more flexible for longer periods without a need to change a battery, integrating the navigation with the courier partner phone and stuff like that. Also, in case of sideways rain, doors would be nice – especially if you could leave them at the hub in the summertime.”
Cargo bikes with service hubs are the future of urban delivery
Julius says that in addition to the flexible rental model, technical properties, and weather resistance, Vok’s most attractive feature was its sustainability: “It’s an overall value alignment. Wolt is always looking for more sustainable options and Vok brings that to the table.”
He sees cargo bikes with service hubs as the way to go: “There’s a lot of research about last-mile delivery and cargo bikes are good for the environment, good for business, and good for the people on the streets.” He’d especially recommend e-cargo bikes to all delivery companies who operate in city centers and old towns with stricter parking and regulations: “I don’t see any downsides to trying them out.”