We are delighted to present our interview with Lorenzo Maggioni, CEO and founder of GEL Proximity. We delved into the company’s innovative roots, its transformative impact on last-mile logistics, and its promising collaboration with WIB. This partnership particularly underscores how integrating advanced technologies, such as WIB Smart Lockers, can significantly enhance the efficiency and sustainability of logistics, contributing to improved air quality and urban living experiences.
Lorenzo, thank you for joining us today. Let’s start from the beginning: how did the idea for GEL Proximity come about, and what’s the story behind its name?
“In 2019, the concept of GEL Proximity began to take shape through the combined experiences of myself and Damiano Frosi, Director of the Contract Logistics Observatory at Politecnico di Milano. We identified a major challenge in Italy’s inability to technologically integrate the numerous distributive networks essential for widespread proximity services. Recognizing this, we endeavored to develop a project that ‘fluidifies’ the technological processes of online companies, focusing on proximity logistic services. Hence the name GEL Proximity, now the first platform entirely dedicated to Proximity Logistics, aiming for sustainability and the growth of eCommerce. Our platform assists online stores in managing the complexities of various proximity networks by optimizing the entire shipping process, from automatic label and bordereaux printing to tracking status monitoring and sending personalized, company-branded notifications. Users can select which Proximity Networks and couriers to enable based on pricing, services, and coverage, set picking hours for each warehouse, customize the checkout map, enable shipping insurance, and much more.”
Moving to the heart of GEL Proximity and last-mile logistics, what do you see as the most important challenges and opportunities in the near future?
“The data shows an increase in deliveries to Lockers and Pickup Points: in 2023, Out Of Home deliveries account for 15.9% of total online product purchases. This positive trend highlights an increasing customer demand for alternative order pickup methods. Therefore, a future priority for eCommerce must be to meet this need, a significant challenge that entails a radical shift in vision: refocusing on the customer and sustainably growing last-mile logistics. In the B2C scenario, pickup points become locations where consumers collect or return packages, while in B2B, they act as actual pickup or decoupling points for business logistics. The potential for development is vast, and there is a common desire to improve current practices by supporting parcel collection logic, with the concrete goal of reshaping urban flows for new smart mobility.”
GEL Proximity is not just about distribution but also storage: how does this role evolve with technological advancements?
“A key aim of GEL Proximity, beyond supporting eCommerce, is to create efficiencies for last-mile operators through our storage services. GEL Proximity has evolved into a platform that effectively manages physical space, providing urban hubs for merchandise decoupling, acting as decoupling points, and offering omnichannel solutions to last milers; as well as naturally providing Pickup Points for end customers. Our technology speaks to a diverse range of stakeholders and generates significant innovative momentum.”
Changes often lead to opportunities, yet also require decisive actions. How does GEL Proximity enable more sustainable last-mile management, and what are the future prospects in this area?
“The pandemic has accelerated processes, leading to an online sales boom and the need to organize services to manage increased volumes and their environmental impact. Traditional home or office deliveries have caused excessive pollution in recent years, overburdening urban infrastructure. Thus, it became necessary to promote alternative first and last-mile logistic policies. Sustainability is increasingly a key factor in digital consumers’ purchasing decisions: 70% of Italians are more mindful of environmental issues, and 80% believe companies should consider sustainability in their business choices. Logistics can no longer be an exception. Using innovative technological solutions like GEL Proximity is now essential to achieve more sustainable eCommerce. Our environmental contribution is particularly evident in GEL Proximity’s ability to eliminate failed home deliveries, supported by thousands of active Pickup Points and Lockers nationwide, complemented by a parcel collection system that streamlines routes and vehicles for last-mile deliveries.”
GEL Proximity offers a truly innovative market proposal, incorporating technology – including WIB Smart Lockers – and a new approach to last-mile logistics. What reactions are you seeing from key stakeholders, and what is needed for a significant advancement?
“At present, Italy still lacks what might be termed a true Out Of Home Delivery culture, unlike the situation abroad. However, there is growing demand from end customers, as major players already offer these services, and carriers are undergoing a transition that will eventually enable everyone to adopt the service. Therefore, merchants need to recognize this new requirement and commit more to supporting sustainable and innovative solutions, including through awareness campaigns that educate end customers about the sustainability impact of their choices.”
Thank you very much, Lorenzo, for your time and for sharing your vision of a more sustainable and functional logistic future!
The collaboration between GEL Proximity and WIB is an excellent example of how partnerships between innovative entities can contribute, optimize, and transform logistic operations, making them more rational, efficient, and sustainable.
The innovative approach of GEL Proximity and the deployment of WIB Smart Lockers represent not only a response to current challenges but also a step forward towards a future where last-mile logistics becomes more intelligent and environmentally friendly. This contributes to improving life experiences in our urban spaces while fostering a more sustainable logistics landscape.