The face of retail changed forever during the Covid-19 pandemic. Such was the explosion for home deliveries in South Africa that e-commerce more than doubled to R30.2 billion in 2020 compared with the R14.1 billion recorded in 2018, according to research by World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck.
In 2022, it is estimated that the figure now stands in excess of R42 billion, even with brick-and-mortar stores reopening under normal trading conditions.
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But it’s not only that more people are buying online – it’s that there’s been an entire shift in consumer behaviour as a whole.
The convenience of being able to shop from your lounge or bedroom, never having to wait in queues or deal with persistent shop assistants, simply can’t be beaten. And it goes without saying that researching and comparing prices is so much easier online, especially when others are able to share their own experiences about specific products and services.
An essential part of this process is offering different delivery options, as customers want their purchases as quickly as possible and in a way that suits them best. While home deliveries may be perfect for a stay-at-home parent or remote worker, they probably won’t be for office workers who are always on the go.
This is why choice matters.
“Customers expect convenience when shopping online. If retailers want to deliver on this convenience and broaden their market across the diverse consumer landscape of South Africa, they must offer a variety of delivery options to accommodate a variety of lifestyles,” says Lars Veul, co-founder and chief executive of Pargo, a Cape Town-based logistics start-up.
Pargo’s smart logistics platform simplifies online delivery through its tech-enabled network of access points.
Big-name retailers like Edgars, Wellness Warehouse and Faithful to Nature already offer several delivery options to meet customers’ individual expectations. One of the more popular of these is Pargo’s click-and-collect solution. This gives online shoppers the convenience of collecting their orders on their way.
There’s no need to wait for couriers or deal with the uncertainty of when home deliveries will take place; rather, you can collect from a pickup point when you are ready.
This delivery method is particularly popular among the many South Africans who live in areas where they might not have convenient access to home delivery but have a Pargo Pickup Point nearby where they can collect their online shopping.
Pargo has already partnered with more than 3 000 local stores, spaza shops and popular retail chains, including FreshStop at Caltex, Clicks and OK Foods to create a network of pickup points across South Africa. A recent addition, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, which runs internet cafes in South Africa’s townships, has also joined the network. .
“Click & Collect is a really good option for customers who aren’t at home often because it gives them the convenience of collecting their orders when they are ready,” Veul says.
What is no longer in any doubt is that as online retail continues to grow, optionality will become ever more important. And that can only be a good thing, says Veul.
“If you allow customers to pick from a host of delivery options, they will choose the one that suits them best, meaning more happy customers, more returning customers and more sales for your business.”