Mark Ang, CEO Bolt Logistics
Mark co-founded Bolt Logistics (formerly Second Closet) out of the University of Toronto, where he obtained his Bachelor of Commerce. He was also selected to participate in the Creative Destruction Lab as part of the MBA program, an incubator/accelerator focused on scaling disruptive businesses. Prior to founding Bolt, Mark worked in various roles spanning investment banking, assurance, and management consulting
What was the inspiration and motivation behind founding Bolt Logistics? And what are you hoping to accomplish through this platform?
When we started a valet storage business, we set out to revolutionize the consumer storage experience. The service picked up, photo cataloged, stored, and returned your stuff at the click of a button. When we took a step back, what we were actually building was a 3PL for people’s stuff. We became experts at managing big and bulky products that would routinely come in and out of our facilities. We’re now leveraging that expertise to deliver world-class last-mile experiences. As we continue to win more of the market, our aspiration is to have more impact on our sustainability initiatives by conducting these executions with electric vehicles (We’ll have the largest fully electric truck fleet in Canada by Q1 2022). In the US, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and although our volume is lower than larger incumbents, we can do our part to help the environment and ensure our operations are carbon neutral or negative.
How Bolt works to reduce domestic and international shipping costs through leading-edge software that provides access to the best shipping rates
The biggest factor in shipping cost is the weight of a package and the distance it travels from the “ship from” to the “ship to” address. All things equal, weight is what it is and can’t be influenced by a fulfillment partner. This leaves distance traveled as the factor within the circle of influence of the fulfillment partner.
What Bolt does to help influence this is analyze our merchants’ SKU level data and intelligently distribute orders across our network to forward place their product and minimize the need for split shipments. This helps reduce cost and increase delivery speed to the shopper.
Do you think that small businesses need more reliable coverage with quick turnaround times?
For sure — as small businesses compete with large marketplaces like Amazon that have set wild consumer expectations for faster delivery of all product types, there’s a need to democratize the fulfillment landscape so small businesses can stay competitive.
Do you think the commitment to sustainable retail practices is important for any business? How do you feel about Bolt Logistics’ efforts in this area?
Absolutely – climate change is knocking on everyone’s door and it’s imperative that we all take action in whichever ways we can. The thinking that our efforts will have too small of an impact and therefore aren’t worth the effort is the kind of thinking that perpetuates the problem. Whether retail business ships one order or one million orders, use one box a day, or 10 thousand boxes a day, finding ways to ensure everything we do is sustainably oriented will, in aggregate, make a strong impact.
There are more and more options in the market where you can vote with your wallet and choose a sustainable solution, so it’s becoming easier than ever before to hop on and have the impact that you want to. There is still certainly room for improvement, but directionally, this is where the industry is going. We consider Bolt to be a leader in this space, making heavy investments in EV infrastructure, sustainable sourcing practices, and making carbon-conscious decisions throughout our organization.
What is your opinion of eCommerce and how do you think it will shape Canada’s future?
The pandemic propelled e-commerce forward by 10 years. Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to develop an omnichannel approach to distributing their products. E-commerce is decisively here to stay but I think it’s how businesses architect and position themselves within that arena. Owning the customer from an acquisition and data perspective is key — it allows you to remarket, survey, and build upon a customer base versus jockeying for a position within a marketplace.
This flows through to the last mile as well, where your brand really needs to show up in a big way (shipping on time, in full, and meeting customer experience expectations). What we’re also seeing is that it’s not necessarily the brands with the longest track record in e-commerce that are winning, it’s ones that have a consistent system from production to fulfillment that is able to capture market share and win.
Given the shift to a “work from anywhere” environment and the digitally native aspects of e-commerce, merchants can and have launched their brands from anywhere in the world. For those who choose Canada, Bolt is there to ensure they are represented by a world-class logistics and fulfillment partner. The larger incumbents are virtually all based in the US, and we’ve been cognizant of the opportunity to support proudly Canadian brands.