eCabs assists courier companies with last mile deliveries

Over the past two weeks, eCabs, the leading passenger transport services provider in Malta, has opened up its infrastructure, logistical and operational capacity to enable a wide range of local and international courier companies to be able to complete thousands of deliveries to their final destination through its own network. 

In fact, eCabs embarked on an exciting venture to transform part of its logistics headquarters into a multi-user facility through which thousands of Christmas parcels and corporate gifts were delivered to their final destination using the transport fulfilment capabilities of the eCabs.

The eCabs’ facility became a veritable logistical hub where thousands of packages were being received, stacked and organised, sorted on a 24×7 basis, with a tech-driven framework channeling the last mile distribution to the intended recipients.

On peak days, the company would manage to turn around hundreds of packages every hour, relying on its unique blend of logistical expertise, infrastructrure, fleet flexibility and technology adaptation across the entire supply chain. At the core of this complex operation was the leverage of the Company’s outstanding IT infrastructure which enables the optimisation of its logistical operations – a vital requirement for last mile deliveries.

The technology – entirely developed by Cuorium Ltd, a subsidiary of eCabs – is now undergoing further development to be transformed into a cloud-based framework open for internationalisation of the operations.

“We have been pursuing our last mile plans for the last year and we wanted to use this opportunity to test it and assess the level of optimisation we have reached. In reality, there is never a better time to test our logistical capabilities than this specific time of the year.

The heightened seasonal activity creates increasing demands on our infrastructural capabilities hence pushing us to deliver more efficiently and with smaller margins of errors” said Greta Borg Bezzina, the Director of Operations of eCabs.

Simon Debono, Chief Officer responsible for Marketing and Business Development at eCabs linked the successful performance of the Company to its passion and commitment for the transformation of the transportation industry. 

He stressed that “the results we achieved in our beta operation in the last mile delivery segment clearly reflects the capabilities and the potential of our operations. In 2020 we shall be seeking to extend the service levels of our operation transforming ourselves into the transport provider of choice for passengers and last mile deliveries alike.”

“We shall remain focused on exceeding expectations and passing on our efficiencies onto the customers by keeping prices as low as possible. This is our aspiration and we shall deliver it with an unparalleled passion for excellence,” concluded Mr Debono.

‘People are the most important element at eCabs’

Few might know that 20 per cent of the 500 plus drivers employed by eCabs are women, that the company employs over 25 nationalities, has a team of in-house technologists and a fully-fledged contact centre handling hundreds of customer interactions on a 24×7 basis.

“People are the most important element at eCabs; in everything we do we seek a professional attitude and a consistent passion for the job to keep us at the forefront,” says Marvin Cuschieri, chief officer human capital and corporate services at eCabs.

Mr Cuschieri is a senior figure in the field of human resources, having occupied the role of CEO of the Foundation for Human Resources Development for six years. Now, as a member of eCabs’ top management team, Mr Cuschieri’s role is that of leading the human capital and corporate relations functions, covering the full spectrum of duties from manpower planning, administration, capacity building, systems implementation, business processes reengineering and facilities management.

“I say ‘recently appointed’ but really and truly, ‘recent’ is now already almost a year. I must admit, it took a bit of thinking to join eCabs. Transport and logistics was at the other end of the spectrum in my career and development pathway but once I was exposed to the dynamic and technologically disruptive nature of the company and learned how the founders were devising to internationalise the business, I decided to embark on this journey and be part of this success in the making.”

He explains that eCabs is far from just a conventional cab operator. The company is considered as Malta’s largest and leading private transportation company which, since its inception, has sought to revolutionise passenger mobility and how people commute on this highly congested island.

Over the last few months eCabs has ventured into events, expanded its corporate accounts portfolio and is now offering the full spectrum of people transport. It has also set up its own captive logistics software company, Cuorium. Adopting cutting-edge geo-spatial technologies, flirting with the application of AI in its operations and venturing into the uncharted territory of consuming big data to enhance its trip optimisation capabilities.

“HR is the only function that touches every single part of the organisation in all its aspects – from the drivers whom I consider as the front line of our organisation, to the contact centre agents; from the logistics controllers to the back office team, support service providers and the fully dedicated team of developers building and developing our unique ICT systems and infrastructure.”

Over the past 12 months, a lot has already happened within the company’s human capital structures.

“And so many more changes are coming up,” he adds. “Currently we are taking the company through a meticulous restructuring process at all levels. Perhaps one very important change is the way we are running our human capital. Being a strong believer in delegation, one of the very first steps was to build a stronger middle management structure that can bridge the gap between the vision and the front-line, while putting a stronger spotlight on the important aspects of the HR support services, so vital for such a company employing such a large workforce.”

He says the company is also developing a more holistic way of training its drivers and contact centre agents with better induction processes and feedback channels. Their logistic coordinators have been given the opportunity to follow academic diplomas in management, while the developers get the space they need to keep abreast with the dynamics of their specialisations.

“For instance, one of our developers was recently at the DevFest Berlin, an annual community-driven developer event organised by the 3 GDGs where he had the opportunity to attend a number of sessions across multiple product areas, all-day hack-a-thons, code labs, and more. The holistic and most unifying value that we are trying to instil is that all employees belong to a common vision and hence why they understand the importance of being professional in everything that they do and not to just meet customers’ expectations, but constantly exceed them. Quality is key for us, while passenger safety is paramount.”

He points out that the company managed to build a strong recruitment pipeline by taking an innovative approach towards recruitment and striving to build models which can fit with those of the workforce.  Efforts have been made to reduce turnover by for instance allowing more flexibility, rewarding positive actions, creating a stronger team engagement, and instilling a strong sense of belonging.

“The fact that the company operates on a 24/7 basis means it is in a position to give employees the flexibility they need, something other companies cannot offer,” he adds.

“What I love about HR? Seeing people grow within their roles, teams of people pulling the same rope and coming up with their own initiatives, nourishing a positive work culture, having a diverse company not only in gender and age but also in terms of nationality.”

We’ve got the power.

How eCabs’ empowered technologists are engineering the growth of the company.

Very few people know that behind eCabs’ complex operation there is a fully-dedicated team of developers and in-house technologists, building and developing the company’s international-grade IT systems.

“When I came to join, I did not even know that the company had its very own team of developers who were running the eCabs App. Honestly, I was blown away when I was introduced to the whole set-up and was immediately offered the first project to work on the drivers’ app,” said Mark Spiteri, one of eCabs’ in-house developers.

“I wanted a new challenge and eCabs clearly want to go places with their technological efforts. More importantly, I realised the dynamic and technologically disruptive nature of eCabs in which I saw a company that was committed to harness the power of technology and was willing to invest in order to claim its rightful leadership position.

“Looking back, it has been an amazing journey. But what’s more amazing is the fact that so much more is coming up our way as this sector is going through many important changes,” said Mr Spiteri.

Luca di Michele, who heads eCabs’ team of developers, explained how, this year, eCabs founded Cuorium as its very own captive logistics software set-up which is now tasked with not only developing all the technology behind eCabs’ new IT infrastructure but to transform this into a platform to enable the company to take its operations into the international market.

“Although owned by eCabs, Cuorium operates on the same engaging lines as those of a start-up. The structure is flat and communication between us and management is extremely dynamic. We source ideas, explore them together within the team, shape them in our programmatic plans, put them forward to the CTO and CEO and we evaluate them together until the way forward is identified,” said Mr Di Michele.

“Up to two years ago, eCabs was running on a system built on outsourced software which served its purpose to enable the growth of the company but was increasingly limited to match the growing needs of the operation. In parallel, the company’s strategy was evolving at a very fast pace in which technology was the centrepiece enabling its execution,” added Mr Di Michele.

“This is what led us to rebuild our platforms, with the medium-term objective of opening up the platform to other operators and the international market.

“We, therefore, set out on a long-term plan where the first target was to build our own system to fit the evolving operations framework of the company. Subsequently, we redesigned the whole interface, gave a new look that reflected the company’s evolved identity and plugged the system on to the new platform. The app’s success was instant.

“In the first four months of this year, 26,000 new users downloaded the app which eventually saw over 80,000 booked rides in the same period. To date, there have been almost 215,000 downloads of our eCabs App,” he added.

Today, eCabs’ mobile app is a recognised best practice and is highly rated for offering a very straightforward method of booking a ride within a few seconds.

The app runs in parallel with three other methods of booking namely, phone bookings, e-mail bookings and web bookings, with new tech-based booking channels on the horizon in 2020. All these channels are operated from a fully-fledged contact centre handling hundreds of customer interactions on a 24/7 basis.

“We have been watching the technology behind our app revolutionise passenger mobility and how people decide and choose to commute. The app is also acting as a great tool that is helping us collect data to be able to improve our service by aligning our operations to the changing mobility trends. Having our own team of developers is now allowing the company to focus on solutions that cater for Malta’s unique needs,” added Mr Spiteri.

“One of the main features of the eCabs’ App is that once you book a cab, you can monitor in real time the location of the cab. Another smart feature is that when you pre-book a cab through the app, customers enjoy highly-beneficial rates.

“Our technology, together with our contact centre, are the heart of the company. Now that the app and our platforms have been completed, we are ready to move on to the next level – that of fuelling innovation across all our operations.”

“Developers are usually the ones working behind the scenes but at eCabs, I am proud to say that we constantly play a central role not only in the company’s IT evolution but also as protagonists in its commercial way forward,” the duo remarked.

Both are now already looking at some very exciting projects for next year.

“Being part of the eCabs’ tech team is a truly exciting place to be at this point in time. We are busy improving our tracking system whereby passengers will also be able to share their vehicle’s tracking with others. We are working on a gamified loyalty scheme proposition to reward our customers more. We are adopting cutting-edge geo-spatial technologies, flirting with the application of AI and looking at better ways how to consume our huge data bank to enhance trip optimisation capabilities.

“We’re on the right track. This year, we managed to bring down the booking processing time from six seconds to one second and we want to review the post-booking phase in a more transparent way that reassures customers that their cab is actually on its way and at the best price possible. We could easily say that technology is enabling us to commit a much stronger value proposition to customers even on a day-to-day basis,” they added.

What’s most exciting for the future of the tech team of eCabs? “Invariably, reckoning that our platform will now be exposed on the international market is a unique experience for all of us and an opportunity of a lifetime,” Mr Spiteri and Mr Di Michele concluded.

eCabs Appoints New Chief Technology Officer

Applying AI technology to better manage an ever growing fleet, minimizing pick-up time for customers to improve the overall experience as well as building a long-term data strategy for the implementation of a data management platform, will be amongst the main targets driven by eCabs’ newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Patrick Bezzina.

In his role, Mr. Bezzina, who is currently pursuing a Masters degree in AI, will be responsible for implementing eCabs’ technology strategy which would be aligned with the company’s commitment to bring further disruption in the industry both locally and internationally.

Welcoming Patrick on board, eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina said “We’re investing heavily in our  very competent and sizeable technology team, one which comprises of  software developers, quality assurance, business analysts, and infrastructure engineers. Patrick’s appointment as our new Chief Technology Officer is aligned with the company’s values of being disruptive in nature. We want to keep on driving our  forward-looking, adventurous and relentless attitude – one that has been with us from day one and which we want to see permeating across the organisation as it keeps on growing and evolving with members joining our family”.

Always calm and collected, Mr. Bezzina holds  a Bachelor degree in Computer Science and Mathematics, a Masters degree in Business Administration and a successful 26 year strong career.

Starting off as a software developer, Patrick scaled the ladder to higher achievements, building teams of software engineers, developing and implementing business-critical technology solutions for local and foreign companies, and overseeing technology implementations on an enterprise level for fund management, iGaming, manufacturing, aviation and corporate advisory companies.

Attracted by the enthusiasm and dedication of the company’s top management team and their vision to consistently shake up the local and international mobility industry, Mr. Bezzina described eCabs as a ‘dynamic, innovative and technology driven company’.

“I am proud to join this influential leader in an industry that is in its infancy. I’ve been impressed by the energy and the technology driven approach embraced by the owners that permeates through every level of the organisation and have been extremely happy with what my team has achieved so far. We’re building a talented and multi-national team of software and data engineers while setting up a fun and inspiring working environment. We have very challenging and exciting years ahead of us which I’m greatly looking forward to. My commitment is to help the company in its disruptive adoption of technology to strengthen its outstanding passenger experience.”

 

 

Mastercard and eCabs with total €15,000 cashbacks

Customers using their Mastercard for the first time to pay for a trip worth €10 or more via the eCabs APP, will receive a €5.00 cashback on their cards. A total of €15,000 in cashbacks will be given out to all Mastercard users who place a booking with a new card on the eCabs app for the first time.

“eCabs is thrilled to partner with Mastercard and Credorax to enhance the experience for clients using our service,” said Matthew Bezzina, CEO at eCabs. “Mastercard cardholders using their card for the first time to pay for their eCabs trip via our app will be able to enjoy a cashback on their card – our way of saying ‘thank you’ for their custom.” The promotion is open to residents and non-residents in Malta, aged 18 and over with a valid Mastercard, irrespective of the bank and the country where it was issued. Only one Mastercard can be used per user, and no reimbursement will be provided on a second Mastercard used. The promotion is only valid on payments made through eCABS Mobile App.

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Building a transport technology framework that is ‘future ready’ | Matthew Bezzina

Over the past few years, the landscape of Malta’s cab industry has changed dramatically. With just a few players on the scene, around 10 years ago Malta’s roads were introduced to eCabs. Since then, the number of people moving to Malta for work has exploded, together with traffic and increased overall activity.

Further still, Malta has also experienced a boom in ride-sharing applications competing with eCabs. In the light of this, the Malta Chamber discusses how technology is shaping the company and how increased competition has shaped its strategy with eCabs co-founder Matthew Bezzina.

Mr Bezzina’s aim is simple – in his own words, he wishes to “build a transport technology framework that is future ready.” He discusses the impact competition has had on his business, the lessons learnt from a decade in the industry and the lack of regard to customer safety by many operators in the space.

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“E-scooters are part of the mobility future of this country.” | Matthew Bezzina

E-scooters are part of the mobility future of this country and their role is set to become even bigger.

Some may think that e-scooters are a competitor to the cab industry. Unfortunately this is a typical myopic perspective advocated by those who believe in protectionism rather than the dynamics of an open and modern economy.  

At eCabs, our mission has always been to provide an alternative, sustainable and effective means of transport other than the private car. The private car is increasingly becoming a heavy and expensive burden on our infrastructure.

The average person makes around 3.3 trips a day. A good percentage of these trips are done using a private car which 95% of the time is lying idle and parked but still occupying space on the roads for free, which in today’s terms translates to prime space that comes at a high premium.

If only one considers the opportunity cost of time and space, it is already enough reason to understand that a private car equates to a lot of missed opportunities.

Therefore, it goes without saying that as a company committed to promoting alternative mobility means other than private cars, we ‘re four-square behind the widespread use of e-scooters.

It is commendable that the authority has acted fast to regulate the use of e-scooters and not to allow the law of the jungle to prevail in such a sensitive domain. A modern country deserves a responsive regulatory environment and certainly doesn’t afford gaps which could jeopardise the safety of drivers and the public.

The first issue that we need to consider is that of risk. Space in Malta is limited, our road network is one of the densest networks in the world, most streets are narrow, and two thirds of these streets are taken by the road. Not to mention that a large portion is taken by parking spaces for idle cars and the very little remaining space has to be shared between pedestrians, bicycles and now e-scooters. This limited space that has to be shared means increased risk for all road users.

The only way to manage this risk is through proper enforcement and this is why the proposed regulation is a step in the right direction towards ensuring that the service can grow in a sustainable way.

It is in everyone’s interest that e-scooters operate safely and without endangering other road users. The authorities need to make sure that the right legislation is in place so that all stakeholders are protected. Only proper and responsible monitoring can contribute towards the service to grow organically.

If we just consider accessibility, the use of an e-scooter makes it an ideal fit to any multi-modal pattern of commuting: someone on an e-scooter can easily ride a bus, board a ferry and yes why not, even call an eCab and travel with his e-scooter. We will go the extra-mile to send e-scooter riders a cab that makes the commute with their e-scooter an easier and more fulfilling experience!

E-scooters have an important role to play in Malta. And as the ongoing quest for better and more efficient mobility continues, their role is set to become even bigger

 

The real value of transport | Matthew Bezzina

Our society is driven by a lifestyle where cars are protagonists. We instil the idea in our children that, as soon as they turn 18, they have to get their driving licence and own their car.

The car has become a must and is now an intrinsic part of the social fabric. But we have reached the extreme where owning a car is not just an expense for its owner but also carries a cost on the infrastructure and, as we are lately also finding out, on our health.

Every morning, many of us walk to our car, start the engine and drive to work and then, after a day’s work, we take the car back home. If you stop to think about it, you would realise that many of such people’s cars are lying idle for 95 per cent of the time.

Yet, they are still paying for fuel, road tax and insurance, not to mention maintenance costs.

From an infrastructure point of view, the reality is that, nowadays, no matter the location, vehicles are constantly occupying space on the roads for free, prime space which, in today’s terms, is an asset that comes at a high premium.

In reality, we will never know the real value of transport until we are forced to radically change the patterns of how we commute, a change so drastic it will bring a whole upheaval in our personal lifestyles, how we plan our days, where we spend most of our time and how we interact with family and friends.

Unfortunately, for this to happen, those in government will need to make difficult decisions.

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INTERVIEW | Matthew Bezzina: ‘We aim to grow into one of the largest corporates in Malta’

eCabs is a household brand in the local transport industry. Its impressive growth and significant operational footprint make it the first private company to reach high standards in service provision and technology application in the sector. BUSINESS TODAY met the company’s CEO, Matthew Bezzina, for an insight into how his business evolved into the leading transport solutions provider in Malta with internationalisation aspirations.

What was the idea behind eCabs, which started out as a new taxi company and has evidently turned itself into major operation within a short span of time?

Our idea was born out of the blend of two elements: firstly our academic formation in business and law which enabled us to structure our approach to problems and secondly our vision for shaping a business which uses technology to revolutionise a sector conspicuous for its failings and shoddy service. The idea can be easily summed up into an aspiration to be a prime mover in the solution to what was already becoming a huge traffic problem. We wanted to provide a feasible personal transportation alternative to people and kick-start a change in culture and mentality. Today 10 years down the line we look back with pride and satisfaction, but we also look forward to the next revolution we want to trigger.

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eCabs Lottery Generates 26,000 App Downloads

Over 26,000 new users installed the eCab app between January and April of this year. During this period, a lottery was organised by eCabs, in collaboration with Michael Attard Ltd, to promote the company’s new App. Over 80,000 rides were booked through the app during the same period. 

Every person downloading and booking a ride through eCabs’ app received a lottery ticket via email. The lottery generated over 100,000 tickets with the winner, Khalila Wanalia Astwood winning a brand new Peugeot 108.

Nicholas Attard, Chief Officer, Marketing and Business Development at eCabs said that “knowing that throughout this campaign we generated another 80,000 booked rides means that more people have been exposed to the eCabs experience and today, they are more aware of the value that they get when they book with us and that with eCabs they get to enjoy a service that is punctual, works in real time and is consistently of the highest level.”

eCabs mobile app is a very straightforward method of booking a ride within a few seconds. One of the main features of this app is that once you book a cab, you can monitor in real time where the cab is. Another important advantage is that when you pre-book a cab through the app, customers enjoy advantageous rates.

“Ultimately, giving added value through such competitions is important but what is mostly important for us at eCabs is that people realise the ease of use of our app, which we consider to be the very essence of our service and of what our company stands for” added Nicholas Attard.