The SA Post Office’s ecommerce platform will allow local entrepreneurs to sell their products on the global market, the company announced at an event in Pretoria.
This platform will have a “soft launch” on 9 March 2020.
Ecommerce has been touted by the SA Post Office as a big opportunity to increase its revenue as it seeks to strengthen its financial position.
Chairperson Colleen Makhubele said the Post Office had recently been suffering losses of approximately 1 billion per year, and has received R8 billion from the government since 2016 – which was intended to drive new initiatives such as its ecommerce platform.
How the ecommerce platform works
The SA Post Office’s new ecommerce platform will be launched in partnership with the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
It will serve as the primary UPU node for the SADC region within a core African delivery network that includes three other countries in key locations – Egypt, Ghana, and Kenya.
This will also connect South Africa’s ecommerce platform to UPU’s global partners, allowing South African entrepreneurs to reach customers around the world.
“We plan for platform to serve as springboard for local SMMEs to help them sell their products and services throughout Africa and world,” said Makhubele.
Makhubele explained that South African businesses will be able to list their products on the SA Post Office ecommerce platform for free, and people from around the world will be able to purchase these goods.
The SA Post Office can assist entrepreneurs in financing the product, as well as helping the entrepreneur to deliver the product on time.
Makhubele added that the Post Office is partnering with local logistics entrepreneurs who will be registered with the SA Post Office.
These businesses will help the Post Office make local house-to-house deliveries at pick-up points and in remote areas.
The SA Post Office will also be partnering with other courier companies who have specific strengths, Makhubele said.
“We have already enlisted a number of local businesses which are offering unique South African items as part of proof-of-concepts,” Makhubele added.
The local ecommerce platform will focus on the following types of transactions:
- Business to Administration
- Administration to Administration
Why the Post Office is capable
Makhubele highlighted that the SA Post Office already has an extensive reach within South Africa, but it has not been using this efficiently.
The importing of up to 80,000 items per day locally and abroad is further proof that the SA Post Office is capable of large delivery volumes, said Makhubele. The logistics side of the business is also reported to be in good condition.
Makhubele also said that the UPU mother body also enables South Africa and the greater SADC region to influence narratives and debates within the industry – offering it more say globally.
Makhubele said the SA Post Office was dedicated to ensuring that the struggling postal service regains “the once-heralded position of SAPO”.
Securing the future of the Post Office
Makhubele acknowledged that the Post Office has not been operating efficiently over the past decade and highlighted that it had been “bleeding money.”
She said the Post Office has been losing customers annually, and it needed to take steps to stem this tide.
To do this, the Post Office is repositioning itself as an integrated service solutions provider.
“SAPO is in the process of strategically repositioning itself and using its distribution network as a service platform to be leveraged for profitability, innovation and service delivery,” said Makhubele.
“We are driving management aggressively towards a pronounced strategy of a Post Office that is relevant in the digital economy and one that is central to the provision of Fourth Industrial Revolution products and services; a Post Office that is trusted and reliable to deliver, deliver on time and deliver the parcels unviolated.”
She added that the new board has been dealing with irregular contracts – including contracts where retainers were paid without work being done or scope being clarified.
One example involved a service provider being paid R20 million per month for services not provided.
The clauses were abnormal, with a R250-million exit penalty faced by the SA Post Office while the service provider only faced a penalty of R10,000 for non-delivery.
The SA Post Office should have a permanent CEO and CFO soon, it said, with the shortlisting process in advanced stages.