Route Optimization


Transportation and Logistics



Apr 2020 - Jun 2021


Tommy Lin is the CEO of Rocketship Inc, a technology-enabled delivery company in Richmond, British Columbia. His fascination with logistics started early. In his university days at the Vancouver Community College in downtown Vancouver, Canada, he worked part-time doing food delivery for Uber Eats and DoorDash. “I came to appreciate both the operational and technology challenges of running a successful delivery service,” he says. 

After he graduated, Tommy worked as a delivery driver for Amazon, and it was there that he saw how technology could help logistics companies operate efficiently at scale. However, he noticed that many local and small businesses in Vancouver needed same-day delivery services. Yet there was no cost-effective solution available. 


“If you talk to any small business owner and ask them if they are happy with their delivery partner, the overwhelming response is ‘No!’” Tommy says. 

The main reason for their unhappiness is not price but uncertainty about when their package will be picked up and when it will be delivered to their customers. This leads to misunderstandings and missed deliveries.   

Large, established companies use antiquated systems, but tech-based options are not the most effective either. “Uber will pick an item up directly from your warehouse and deliver it immediately to your customer, but this gets expensive quickly. It is equivalent to paying for a taxi ride to deliver the item yourself!” He observes. 

Point-to-point services are not required as most small companies also don’t need their packages delivered immediately, just within the same business day. These ideas gave Tommy the vision to start Rocketship. So, he quit his job, hired a few of his driver buddies and Rocketship was born. “To keep costs down for our customers, Rocketship would use route optimization to make sure that our deliveries are done in the most efficient way possible.”


Without same-day delivery technology, the usual process looks like this:

  • Afi Labs

    An end-customer places an order on the website

  • Afi Labs

    Business confirms order and calls or emails delivery company to schedule same-day pickup and drop off.

  • Afi Labs

    Delivery companies are unable to confirm the exact timing of when they can arrive.

  • Afi Labs

    There’s zero visibility on customer drop off

“I wanted to build a delivery company that would automate a lot of this busy work so that we could concentrate on keeping our customers (and their customers) happy and informed about where their drivers and packages were at any point in time,” Tommy says. 

Initially, Tommy tried to build the software himself but soon realised the challenges. “Coming from Amazon, I initially thought that delivery technology was mostly a solved problem!” 

“At first I tried stringing different pieces of software together. We had a route optimization dashboard that was connected to a driver app and a driver scheduling tool.” 

Still, it was a pain. “We still had to do a lot of manual data entry whenever customers needed a delivery.” Customers still had to call or email for same-day deliveries. 

“Also, the system we had built was very brittle. If any of the third-party services we were using went down, the whole system would break down.”

“It was then that I decided that we had to build our own software in order to take ownership of the user experience for our customers.”


Afi Labs came highly recommended by one of Tommy’s business partners. “I’m glad that we found them. Instead of trying to push a product, they sat down and listened to our problems and designed a complete system customized to our needs,” Tommy says. 

Based on the problem Tommy described and feedback, Afi Labs would develop and iterate mockup screens to show how the feature would solve the problem. “Getting the requirements ready and perfecting each design took several weeks. Once that was done, the full system was built in about six months with Afi Labs,” says Tommy.

WooCommerce Plugin and Customer Portal

Rocketship’s customers tend to operate their own websites and online stores. 

Now, instead of calling and emailing upon order confirmations, all the customer needs to do is to install a plugin on their WooCommerce store to pipe these orders directly to Rocketship where it shows up in their customer portal.

“The customer gets to pick and review pickup and delivery job options, and this helps customers feel in control,” Tommy says. Customers can specify package contents, vehicle types preferred, service levels required. 

Customers can also choose to import a spreadsheet or import orders one at a time. 

“Rocketship then does one round of quality checks before sending into the route optimization dashboard.”  

There is less friction when customers send orders to Rocketship, and they are assured that deliveries will be made to the end consumer. Everything is self-service and visible, so Rocketship’s customers can search and track any order based on status, pick up or delivery date, and end-customer name on the customer portal.  

Route Optimization Dashboard 

Rocketships secret sauce is making sure that their drivers take the shortest routes possible. Once jobs are confirmed, drivers are pushed into a route optimization dashboard that minimizes the distance each driver must travel. As drivers get more optimized jobs, they can earn more. This system keeps Rocketship’s fleet of delivery drivers happy. 

“Because everything is tracked in the system, we know exactly how much to pay our drivers and how much to bill our customers. Invoicing and driver settlements used to take a few days each month, now we do it in minutes,” Tommy says.

Driver App

With Rocketship, drivers use an app available on iOS and Android so they can see where they have to go next. Customer text notifications are triggered when the driver is about to arrive, so customers can get ready to receive their delivery. 

If the customer is not able to receive the package or wants contactless delivery, the driver can just take a photo to prove that the package was delivered safely.   

Shipment Tracking

Finally, customers can track the location of their packages at any time. They can view this information on the customer portal or on Rocketship’s website using the package number.

Internally, Rocketship’s customer support staff can search for packages by customer name, address, delivery status so packages never get lost. 

“I absolutely love the shipment tracking feature,” Tommy says. “We get so much new business by being able to show how customers can use a tracking link to see the progress of their deliveries. It also reduces the load of our customer service team.”


Thanks to technology, Tommy is able to plan the next area of growth: pickup and delivery services for consumers. 

Since Rocketship already has a large fleet of delivery drivers, they could use extra capacity for on-demand or rush job orders. So, Afi Labs is currently building a simple iOS app that consumers can use to have a package delivered on-demand.

“Our holy grail is to be able to combine our scheduled same-day deliveries with ‘on-demand’ deliveries,” Tommy shares. If he could summarise the biggest impact on his business so far, he says, “Now, customers are happier.”


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