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It was 16 April 2015 that Picup — WeChat Africa’s on-demand goods collection and delivery service — was meant to be launched. It wasn’t clear why it got postponed but the launch is to take place 28 May.
The service is intended to disrupt South Africa’s logistics market. Popular mobile social network WeChat Africa says that Picup will remove the hassle and admin involved with traditional courier services by offering a hassle-free approach to logistics and deliver whenever and wherever. The service will be hosted entirely on WeChat.
According to the press release, the service is the perfect courier alternative for SME’s and individuals in need of a quick, easy and affordable solution.
“Technology is changing our lives. Customers value their time, they’re demanding immediacy, efficiency and simplicity and this is exactly what picup aims to achieve by letting customers order a licensed, verified and fully trained professional driver directly from WeChat seamlessly – no paperwork, no confusion, no problem,” says Chief Picup Officer, Grant Isaacs.
Picup’s direct competitor in this space is Wumdrop. Recently Wumdrop launched its iOS app and has been doing well over a short period of time, proving that the market is ready. Picup appears to be launching at the right time then, the market is maturing and ripe. This is however not the only factors that will make Picup work. Wumdrop has had to do the ground work and so will Picup. When online shopping grows to its potential, these services will become even more useful.
Picup’s availability being exclusive to WeChat can either work very well or completely fail. The success of M4JAM however tells the former narrative. With WeChat proving to be popular in South Africa, Picup could work. According to an estimate by World Wide Worx, WeChat grew its user base by four million. If this is indeed true, it offers Picup a huge potential market.
“Picup transforms your phone into a delivery remote control, moving your online order into a real world delivery. Users can sign up for the service by downloading WeChat, following the picup official account, PicupSA and completing the registration process,” the company says.
When registration is confirmed, users can then request a driver to collect or deliver documents or packages to and from a determined location. Upon completing this stage, users can select their preferred mode of Picup. This is influenced by what is available in the vicinity according to what is being delivered. The different mode include bicycles, scooters and cars. One can pick up all kind of things, even the most practical.
“Imagine standing in a queue at Home Affairs only to realise that you’ve forgotten your ID book at home. With picup, you can arrange for a driver to collect and deliver the document for you – all on your mobile phone and without losing your place in the queue,” says Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa.
The different modes have different specifications. Bicycles for example can only pick up maximum weight of 5kgs at a maximum distance of 5kms, Motorbikes 10kgs at a distance of 30kms, and cars 30 kgs at a distance of 60kms. The biggest load that can be delivered has to fit into the back of a standard Sedan. Picup also provides users with further information on what they can request to be picked up, with box specifications, what picup will not deliver, internal cushioning, taping and sealing.
For now the service is available in areas throughout the Cape Metropole. Isaacs stresses that Users will be charged a minimum base rate plus a per-kilometre charge.
“While we are launching picup in the Cape Town area, there are plans to expand to other cities as the model is easily replicated and can be amended as we launch city by city,” says Isaacs.