Some of South Africa’s largest ecommerce platforms have struggled to keep up with customer demand in recent weeks.
A lot of the blame has been placed on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had an adverse effect across the entire supply chain.
MyBroadband recently received reports from OneDayOnly customers of delayed deliveries, packages without the correct products, and difficulties getting in contact with OneDayOnly’s customer service.
This follows similar reports by Takealot and Loot customers, and shows an overarching trend within the South African ecommerce industry.
Delivery delays experienced by Takealot, OneDayOnly, and Loot are detailed below, along with feedback from the ecommerce companies where this was provided.
Several MyBroadband readers and HelloPeter users said that their Takealot deliveries have been delayed for as long as a month.
This is allegedly because Takealot’s distribution centres have been overwhelmed due to increased demand for ecommerce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An anonymous source told MyBroadband that third-party sellers are being held responsible for the capacity problems at Takealot’s warehouses.
Many of these sellers reportedly face their products being delisted and possibly being removed from the platform entirely.
Takealot’s booking system lets sellers reserve a slot to deliver their products, but in recent weeks, they could not book slots sooner than a week ahead.
This meant that third-party sellers with a five-day SLA had their late delivery statistics skyrocket, and received warning emails from Takealot Seller Compliance.
Takealot has declined to comment on the topic.
OneDayOnly acknowledged that it has suffered issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because it has seen growth at a scale it was not prepared for.
“To put this level of growth into perspective, OneDayOnly is a 30-40% bigger company today than it was just four months ago,” said OneDayOnly spokesperson Matthew Leighton.
“We’re the first to put our hands up and say that we’ve experienced some issues in scaling operations over such a short and unexpected period of time.”
Leighton said this has resulted in customers receiving service well below its standard levels, and offered the company’s “sincerest apologies”.
“Although our couriers and suppliers have had issues with adjusting their business approaches too, the responsibility to our customers is ours in its entirety.”
Leighton said that dispatching orders at the time when ecommerce reopened was challenging because of the backlog that OneDayOnly had accrued during levels 4 and 5 of the lockdown.
“This, in turn, created a significant influx in customer queries, meaning our Customer Service department has struggled to respond to customers within our usual time frames,” said Leighton.
“We are working round the clock to ensure normal service is resumed, and can only apologise profusely to any customer who has received less-than-excellent service from us.”
“But rest assured, we’ve learnt some valuable lessons that have helped evolve our business, and this will better position us for future shopping peaks such as Black Friday later this year,” Leighton said.
Loot customers complained that their deliveries have been delayed, while others said that they could not contact the company through its customer service platforms.
Loot told MyBroadband that while it has been trying its best, the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that it has operated below its usual standards.
This is because the pandemic has slowed the company’s entire supply chain.
Additionally, it has seen a major spike in sales volumes, which has exacerbated its supply chain problems.
“Since the full release of ecommerce, towards the back end of May, we have seen revenues increase by over 70%,” said Loot.
“We are seeing sales levels higher than Black Friday and the festive period.”
This surge, combined with supply chain issues, has meant that suppliers and sellers have been unable to provide stock within the agreed time periods.
“We are trying our best to source alternative products and liaise with customers; however, very often we are communicating in the dark, as not even the suppliers could plan for this surge,” Loot said.
Loot said it has been operating on “a mixture of skeleton staff and new staff members” because it has had to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks within the company.
It has also shut down its phone lines to deal with a backlog of emails and social media inquiries.