In 2020, when the world’s economy was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, everyone’s eyes turned to Estonia – the need to go digital and – do business in a smarter way than before – seems the one and only solution to adapt to the new situation. Since 2016, Black Friday has seen more than 20% sales growth year-on-year, according to blackfriday.com, which predicts that this years’ online Black Friday’s turnover will reach $11 billion.
The question is not whether e-sales have a future (and are worth investing in), but how to organise logistics in the new reality, meaning both, trade flow management and contactless last-mile delivery solutions.
According to Sifted, Estonia’s Cleveron is one of the tech companies that may beat Amazon at its own game. Cleveron lockers are looking cool and simple, but the automation behind this look is what makes the locker system amazing – you just have to enter a code and the machine finds your package among all the others, handing it over to you faster than even Santa Claus could. Without contact and without germs.
Keeping the vending machine concept in mind, Estonia’s Cleveron has invented an automated locker system that dispenses parcels and groceries to shoppers in a touch-free way. The solution was ahead of time, launched in August 2019, when none of us had heard about COVID-19 yet.
In spring 2020, the grocery robot was still a new product in Cleveron’s portfolio. The main problem was that there hadn’t been enough time to train the distributors how to install the robots. When the coronavirus eliminated the possibility of international travel, Cleveron faced a huge problem: their robots became more demanded than ever before, but their technicians couldn’t travel to install the parcel robots; their partners couldn’t come to Estonia for training, either. However, a solution was quickly implemented: using augmented reality or AR and making the installation of Cleveron robots simple for anyone with the help of it.
Problem solved, Cleveron continues to expand to new markets. Walmart and Zara are some of the most famous retailers in their customers list, however the list is considerably longer. Cleveron has about 4,000 terminals for handling 1.3 million package deliveries monthly.
Supermarkets, already using Starship robots can keep a one-hour delivery promise. Sifted sees it as an advantage created by Starship last-mile robot service that many retail market leaders don´t have yet.
Starship is a delivery robots company founded by the members of the original development team that created Skype. Their small robots are designed to move along pavements at a pedestrian speed and navigate around people and objects using GPS, ultrasonic sensors, radar and cameras. Those awaiting a package can monitor the robot’s journey on a smartphone. Starship is building a network of robots ready to serve us anytime, anywhere. Those cute tiny robots are already delivering restaurant foods and groceries in a number of cities around the world. Most recently, their network expanded to Northampton, UK, for example.
Estonian AI-based transportation startup Sixfold reacted super quickly to the traffic crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic and launched a real-time border crossing map to avoid delays in international freight transport. After a one-weekend hackathon, a solution was published.
In fact, the Sixfold’s map, is based on foresight – the construction a truck network connecting the whole of Europe began several years earlier. Used by Rockwool and Saint-Gobain, Sixfold’s logistics platform is what helps companies manage their trade flows smoothly.
TransferWise offers a free multi-currency business account to pay global suppliers and to receive Stripe and Amazon payouts for free. The company, founded in 2010 by ex-Skyper Taavet Hinrikus and IT talent Kristo Käärmann, to transform international money transfers cheap, fair, and simple. They have been fabulously successful – TransferWise has 9 million happy customers, 14 offices with over 2,200 employees, across 4 continents. Among others, Richard Branson, and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, have invested in TransferWise.
Walmart, one of the largest sales organizations in the world, started to use an artificial intelligence tool for contracting, created by the Estonian startup Pactum. The tool is able to learn to understand the value of different contract terms and the priorities of both parties and negotiate on behalf of one of the parties via a chatbot. According to Forbes, an average contract AI-negotiated by Pactum’s solution leaves no less than $5,000 of value on the table by avoiding time constraints in the non-AI assisted negotiations.
Pactum is working on negotiations in a variety of industries and a majority of its clients are Fortune 500 companies. On average, 74% to 82% of companies interacting with Pactum’s AI prefer it over a conversation with a human. For recent customers, Pactum increased the value of long tail deals by 11% to 27%.
Founded in 2019, Pactum raised $3 million in summer 2020. “We are convinced that AI-based systems will shape the future of commercial negotiations. Pactum is well on its way to play an essential role in this future,“ said one of the investors, Uwe Horstmann, General Partner of its investor Project A.
It’s time to invest in Estonia
As the world’s most digitally enabled nation, Estonia’s digital and tech solutions are ahead of time in many areas. And that is what makes Estonia an emerging hub for global e-commerce – and a destination worth investing in.