SA's growing appetite for buying goods over
the Internet is not only boosting online retailers, it has also become a big
growth driver for courier services. A MasterCard
Worldwide Online Shopping Survey showed significant increase in online
shopping among South Africans in 2013, with 58% of respondents saying they use
the Internet for online shopping.
Retail markets have grown in importance to
the courier industry, which was traditionally focused more on businesses than
consumers. Retailers, especially online retailers, rely on courier services to
get their goods to customers.
"This landscape has most certainly
changed with about three e-commerce sites a week approaching the company. What
is amazing about this is that these are mostly SME guys starting their own
Diederick Stopforth, the national sales and marketing manager for SkyNet.
This however is exciting especially for entrepreneurs as someone who owns an
art shop in Nelspruit can now sell goods to someone staying in Cape Town. This
allows retailers to grow their geographical footprint beyond just their
The success of these e-commerce sites
however depends heavily on logistical
partners that understand the needs and demands of clients at the end of the
chain. It’s not just about delivering the product but there needs to be an
automated process and constant communication regarding the status of the
delivery that is filtered back to the client.
As the new opportunities emerge for the
courier industry, there are also several challenges in making this a profitable
market. The new tolling system on South Africa’s
roads and the poor state of some roads in the country, particularly roads in
rural areas are ongoing obstacles. In addition, dropping off goods at someone's
home address can be tricky, if a courier has to attempt a delivery more than
once they lose money.
That however does not mean that this is not
a growing market, with huge potential going forward. With the increased
availability of broadband access, more affordable data costs offered by mobile
operators and the consistent development of mobile devices, online
shopping is becoming more and more popular. As the awareness grows in terms
of the convenience and variety of products available at just a click of a
button, retailers will need logistical partners that offer their customers
reliable, efficient, value for money delivery options.
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