The lockdown has changed online shopping in South Africa forever

South African courier companies have seen a significant recovery in their businesses following the relaxation of lockdown regulations around online shopping.

The logistics and freight forwarding industry has also seen significant growth – even compared to their activity preceding the national lockdown.

“When lockdown was implemented, we took a hit on our volume like everyone else, but we have a good number of customers in the healthcare and fresh produce sectors which helped,” said DPD Laser chief customer officer Hilton Eachus.

DPD Laser is a courier company which operates under the Dawn Wing brand in South Africa.

“What we’re seeing now though is a tsunami of consumers ready to jump into online shopping, simply because it’s a necessity to stay home and, for many, work from home,” Eachus said.

“The courier industry has become an enabler to achieve that, we bring the goods to you, and we’ll do it safely through our new contactless delivery process.”

He added that the increased adoption of online shopping and reliance on deliveries belies a fundamental shift towards ecommerce on the part of South African consumers.

“We believe this will be the big shift to online shopping in South Africa that we’ve been preparing for,” Eachus said.

“We are expecting massive volumes from the major e-tailers that we service, but also the smaller shops who have been working hard to bring their business online.”

Ecommerce revolution

A recent analysis by ACI Worldwide showed global ecommerce sales in April experienced a 209% growth compared to the same period last year.

South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) CEO Garry Marshall told MyBroadband that both the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sectors of logistics and courier operations dropped significantly during level 5 of the national COVID-19 national lockdown.

“However, since level 4, there has been a dynamic shift. Because of the extension of commodities into permitted products – allowing logistics companies to transport both the inputs and outputs for manufacturing organisations – we managed to get back to about 70% of capacity,” Marshall said.

He added that ecommerce companies have seen a massive increase in sales volumes of late.

“This has established online shopping and delivery as a norm. This is the catalyst for a surge in ecommerce adoption in South Africa. We have probably advanced five years ahead.”

He said that while ecommerce sales might drop as restrictions are lifted and citizens return to physical stores, the barrier of entry to online shopping has been breached by many new customers who will continue to use ecommerce platforms.

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The lockdown has changed online shopping in South Africa forever