Creating Jungle Express with the team at Mighty Ape
A 2021/2022 highlight for me has been working with friends old and new to create Jungle Express — Mighty Ape’s very own in-house delivery service.
The idea for Jungle Express came about during the Delta outbreak and subsequent lockdown in Auckland, when Simon (Mighty Ape’s Chief Gorilla) signalled his desire to invest in a service that mitigated the growing risk of Mighty Ape’s usual delivery partners being unable to service all of our customers.
That was nine months ago — and this week Jungle Express ticked over 30,000 successful deliveries and has now expanded into same-day weekend delivery — meaning Auckland customers can now enjoy delivery within hours, 7 days per week.
We give customers the ability to rate Jungle Express after every delivery and we’re proud of our average 4.9/5.0 star rating and our 99.31% on-time delivery rate. COVID-19 forced Mighty Ape to innovate and customers will now benefit from Jungle Express for years to come.
Working on Jungle Express has reminded me of a start-up and the early days of Mighty Ape itself. The timelines went something like this:
- September 2021: The idea for Jungle Express is first discussed and we scramble to build out the technology, create some branding and figure out the end-to-end customer experience.
- October 2021: We organise our warehouse systems and complete our first deliveries to real customers using our own personal vehicles.
- November 2021: We hired a couple of Avis rental cars and setup a roster for eager staff members who are keen to help. We delivered our 1,000th customer order whilst working hard to onboard our first dedicated Jungle Express drivers.
- December 2021: we hire the first full-time employee for Jungle Express to run the daily operation and ship our 1,500th customer order. Just before Christmas, we start allowing customers to select Jungle Express themselves in the checkout (previously we were shipping overflows from other carriers).
- March 2022: we complete our 20,000th customer delivery.
- May 2022: we enable same-day delivery on Saturday and Sunday whilst also completing our 30,000th customer delivery.
It’s been awesome to see Jungle Express grow quickly — but most importantly its been fuelled entirely by genuine demand from customers. We’ve done nothing special to promote the service beyond offering it as an optional upgrade in the checkout and telling customers about the service in routine emails and social media posts. Turns out if you charge a fair amount of money ($5.00 — $9.95) for a decent service, customers will give it a go, then give it another go, and then tell their friends…
It’s been ten years since we wrote Mighty Ape’s Core Values and it’s fun to look back and see how many of these values ring true today with the creation of Jungle Express.
- Put Customers First. We built Jungle Express because we didn’t want customers to be without their order when the courier networks eventually became overloaded. We weren’t comfortable with on-time delivery being out of our hands and wanted to do something to help customers where we could.
- Have Fun. We delivered hundreds of orders ourselves in our own private cars whilst waiting to onboard our first drivers. Getting on the road and meeting customers was awesome fun (and still is — many of us frequently leave HQ with a few overflow orders on the back seat). Seeing one of the guys dress up as Pikachu was pretty cool too…
- Embrace Change. With general demand for courier services exceeding supply, we could no longer rely on our partners to deliver every order on time. Adapt or die — and adapt we did. In-house delivery was something we’d only dreamed about before, and Covid forced us into action.
- Do More With Less. Jungle Express was born in a matter of weeks with key team members lending their time to make things happen. Mighty Ape’s developers had an integration working within days. Our designers had a logo and a marketing page approved and live within a couple of weeks. Trademark application was pushed through with urgency. We onboarded ourselves personally as drivers and wrote our driver training manuals as we went — usually at night when we got home fresh from a run. We only added our first full-time employee after successfully delivering over 1,000 parcels.
- Keep It Real. We built Jungle Express to solve an immediate need — deliver packages that weren’t being delivered on time. Failing to build the service meant customers would fail to get their orders. This allowed us to focus on what’s most important and all kinds of “nice to haves” that would normally be agonised over and debated simply fell to one side and didn’t really matter.
- Step Up. Whole teams within Mighty Ape stepped up and re-arranged themselves within days to make the service work. Developers moved fast to complete an integration. Customer Service trained up a handful of specialists to look after our Jungle customers. The Warehouse team re-arranged fulfilment stations and picking workflows to ensure Jungle orders were prioritised and dispatched quickly. And many, many team members hit the road and personally delivered to customers in their own cars to help tweak our processes and get the first orders successfully delivered.
- Think Long Term. Jungle Express is now successfully delivering orders every day throughout Auckland, offering a genuine same-day service, 7 days per week. This investment helped maintain service levels during Delta and Omicron, but now that it’s firmly established and going well, it will benefit customers for years to come. When it comes to delivery, I’m yet to hear a customer complain their order came too quickly so this investment feels like a winner…
Feedback from customers has been the fuel behind this project. The secret sauce. We ask customers to rate our service and leave a comment — and I never get sick of reading them. They motivate the team, provide useful feedback for improvement, and help us stay connected with the reason we all do, what we do, everyday. Below are some of my favourites:
The fastest delivery service. Appreciated the updates via text with info of queue number and time estimation. Honestly, the damn best.
Most efficient service and delivery. 100% best communication I’ve had with a delivery ever!
Too good! Came so quick in 2 hours!!!
Really impressed I made the order at lunch time and had it arrive before 6pm the same day. Now THAT’S service. Bravo
I love your jungle express. I can now receive orders the same day with only a few dollars added.
I am completely blown away by your response and delivery of new item. I wish to thank everyone involved and for them to know it was by no fault of their own. Things like this is why I come back time & time again & also why it’s first place I turn when I shop online. Thank you so very much team! A+ gold star 10/10 service. Merry xmas
Literally ordered this morning had it by 3pm on a Sunday other delivery companies should have a quick look and sort there shit out.
Unbelievable service!! Delivered within 5 hours of placing order!!!!
I haven’t experienced a better delivery service in NZ. So quick I couldn’t believe it.