Consolidation has re-shaped the post-pandemic delivery industry. How do you select the right partner?

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The restrictive conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic that negatively impacted so many parts of the South African economy were the catalyst for a massive growth in ecommerce in the country. Before the pandemic, ecommerce transactions accounted for just 8% of retail card payments, with this having increased to 14% by the end of 2021, and anticipated to grow to R400 billion off more than one billion transactions annually by the end of 2025.

hile many large retailers have invested in their own delivery teams, the growth in ecommerce has driven significant expansion in the delivery services industry. Companies in this sector are now expected to offer a time-sensitive, efficient service across urban and rural destinations, all while keeping costs under control at a time when fuel prices are unusually high.

“The massive demand for delivery services has seen a significant proliferation of new players in the market, but the maturation of the local ecommerce environment has meant that bigger players with broader footprints that are supported by leading edge technology are the businesses that will remain sustainable, and able to deliver on their clients’ expectations. Fortunately, consolidation has transformed what can be offered to customers, and this a good outcome” explains Jason Lombard, CEO of DPD Laser in South Africa.

“At DPD Laser, we have united three companies that were formerly competitors – now we are one. Under the powerful umbrella of DPD group, a European logistics powerhouse in 49 countries, we are injecting world-leading innovation, technology and location accuracy,” Lombard continues.

“Fast + Furious joined at the end of last year and added scale and density in the rural and regional areas of South Africa, opening up access and inclusion deeper into the country. And finally, Dawn Wing has brought superb reputation for client service, action orientation, speed and passion. This combination has helped us to lead the trend of consolidation within the sector,” he says.

These acquisitions saw DPD Laser grow from 900 to 1500 people, from 700 vehicles to nearly 1100, across 25 areas nationally, in readiness for millions of deliveries in the next 12 months. It means that the consolidated business can be a visible delivery partner in every area, in suburbs, regions, remote areas and townships, bringing real access and inclusion to businesses and customers across the country.

“The importance of express and ‘to consumer’ distribution has never been greater, as customers became accustomed to quick, efficient, and contactless deliveries during the height of the pandemic,” Lombard says. “Now that the baseline has been established, customers and the brands they buy from are expecting even more from their delivery partners, particularly as access to international retail environments grows.

Lombard points out that onerous FICA and RICA requirements often add unnecessary friction to delivery solutions – friction that DPD Laser has resolved by digitizing the entire verification process for its customers within the financial, network, and retail sectors, and any others who require identity and address verification to comply with regulations.

“This means that our corporate clients don’t need extra manpower to follow up on their deliveries, and they can be confident that their customers have the best possible last mile experience,” he says.

“Time-sensitive distribution to or from the consumer’s home or place of work has been embedded in everything that we do for a number of years now,” says Lombard. “Being part of the DPDgroup means that we also offer increased transparency, flexibility and control over large parcel volumes and interface real-time with the customer via our custom designed mobile phone application.”

This enhanced level of interactivity through the process – for deliveries from local or international retailers means that customers across the country can keep track of their deliveries, and in the case of international deliveries, avoid any import duties surprise.

“Being able to offer a hyper-local service that’s backed by international-standard technology to South African businesses, and the customers who shop with them, is a key differentiator for DPD Laser, at a time when competition in the sector is stiff,” Lombard says. “It really doesn’t matter if we are servicing ecommerce merchants, direct customers, handling international parcels, the healthcare industry or the B2B segment, the integration of technology, service standards, reach and accuracy dictates your success. And that’s why we are delighted to work as one.”

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