Courier service is key for online retail industry

2012-01-17 00:00

AS online shopping in South Africa is on the rise, retailers who use the Internet as their shop front should ensure they strategically partner with the best courier and shipping service companies.

A recent survey shows that 51% of South Africans with access to the Internet are shopping online. Likewise, 54% of South Africa’s online shoppers tend to conduct research either by surfing the Internet or compiling references from friends and family, before they make purchases.

“But what if these references reveal a bad experience because the shipping company caused a delay in delivery, lost the parcel or rerouted the package to a different destination?” asked Jasen Smallbone, country sales manager — courier of United Parcel Service (UPS), the world’s largest package delivery company.

“Such circumstances would affect consumer relationships with a particular retailer, not the courier company, which is why it’s essential to find the best logistics partner.­­”

UPS said that the enhanced visibility of shipments and specific event notification gives customers more control over their purchases, providing them with accurate information about their shipments.

“A well-known logistics brand helps retailers leverage purchase decisions and build consumer confidence, to give online shoppers peace of mind knowing where their goods in transit are and exactly when they will be delivered,” said Smallbone.

Furthermore, with the growing use of cellphones in the country, South Africans are increasingly making online purchases with their cellphones and the Internet, improving open communication — an essential mechanism for sustainable business.

According to the latest research by World Wide Worx, online retail in South Africa has entered a phase of sustained acceleration.

The survey titled “The Online Retail in SA 2011” shows that the total amount of money spent on online retail goods in South Africa passed the R2 billion mark in 2010 for the first time. It reached R2,028 billion, growing at 30% over the previous year.

“The report claims that online retailers are more bullish about 2012, with the industry consensus pointing to 40% growth this year. This is encouraging, yet we believe the continued growth in online sales can be bolstered by one vital and imperative element within the supply chain — logistics,” said Smallbone.

“If the report states that over 6,8 million people will be online by 2015, there are over three million more people whom retailers will have to target in the future compared to the 2010 e-commerce market. Online shoppers will continue to buy from virtual retailers only if they trust their processes and the company delivering their goods to them, which is why loyalty and transparency have to be established from the beginning,” said Smallbone.

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