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Behind the B! Sendle
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Behind the B! Sendle
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Behind the B! Sendle
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Partners
2 March 2022

Behind the B! Sendle

In celebration of B Corp Month, we get Behind the B with Sendle CEO and founder, James Chin Moody.

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Discussed in this Story

Sendle is Australia’s first 100 percent carbon-neutral delivery service, and its first technology B Corp. We’re also the only carrier that is built just for the needs of small business. Basically, we empower tens, if not hundreds of thousands of small businesses all over Australia – and now the US – to compete in the world of e-commerce. At the same time, we’re working to accelerate the world towards carbon neutral delivery.

I’ve always been a fan of the idea that you need a deeper purpose. If you can’t articulate why your business should exist, and the positive impacts you want it to have, then you’re not building it to last. Sometimes your purpose can evolve. Sendle didn’t astart off as a logistics company; we began as a giving marketplace, where people could give away things they no longer needed. But it turned out that what was most important was getting the items from one person to another.

We realised the problems we were having were exactly the same problems facing every single online marketplace and every small business e-commerce seller. Postage was expensive and it was inconvenient lining up at the post office. So we thought, let’s go beyond our original purpose and make it possible for small businesses to compete on a level playing field in the logistics space.

We were lucky because we were our first customer. We had to solve the logistical problems for ourselves. But the more we peeled back the onion, the more we realised that Australia had a functional monopoly in place for parcel delivery. The whole playing field was completely biased against small business. Like other small players, we had to line up at the post office and pay more than $40 to send 10 kilograms from Sydney to Perth, but we knew there was no way the big retailers were spending that much.

So, we set out to create equitable access for small businesses to logistics services. Businesses now tell us they couldn’t exist without us, because of the time we’re saving them or because postage would be too expensive. That’s my favourite kind of feedback: I don’t think I’d be here, if you didn’t do what you did.

We know the world is embracing e-commerce and we think that’s a great thing. At the same time, we knew we needed to mitigate the harm – the carbon emissions created by shipping those products. From day one, every parcel we’ve sent has been 100% carbon neutral. We’ve now sent parcels over 35 billion kilometres — further out than the Voyager probe, without adding carbon emissions.

One of the curious things was that the moment we started talking about being carbon neutral, everyone assumed we would be more expensive. But we’re actually cheaper. We get the rates down by filling idle capacity courier networks. We figured out that there are large logistics companies that generally won’t deliver for small business, but they are delivering for big retailers and their vans are often going back to the depots empty. We realised we could fill those trucks.

By finding waste and doing something useful with it, you can create business models that are better for the planet and benefit consumers – and providers – at the same time. In Sydney, we’re now moving to a 100% electric vehicle fleet. While the trucks are sitting there being loaded or unloaded, we’re using solar energy from the roof of the depo — which otherwise would be wasted — to refuel the batteries.

I’m a former systems engineer and a satellite engineer. I love models, I like to understand how systems work. I think this goes right to the very heart of being a B Corp. You have to look at the bigger picture and see how everything is connected. In the short term, we’re spending quite a lot of money to offset the parcels. But there are long term benefits. We’re de-risking the whole business from climate change. We’re helping our small business customers to sell more because they can talk to their customers about the fact that their deliveries are carbon neutral. That’s one of the most interesting things about being a B Corp — you make decisions with all stakeholders in mind. Even if there are trade-offs in the short term, in the long term, you end up with a much stronger and sustainable business.

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