4 Trends in South Africa's Courier Industry 

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As a future-focussed SME funder, Geddes is always looking for industry trends that can give our clients an edge. We already know that eCommerce is on the rise and has been for a few years now. But with the rise of eCommerce, comes the rise of the courier industry

Below are four trends we’ve spotted in South Africa’s logistics market. 

1. Improving Logistics Efficiencies and Precise tracking

Improving efficiency is one of the top two priorities for supply chain professionals in South Africa, according to the PwC Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey 2022. Real-time tracking is a powerful way for courier companies to improve efficiency. When people know when to expect their goods, they are more likely to be there to receive them. This means fewer failed deliveries across the board. 

Transparency and real-time tracking have become essential expectations in the industry. What started with a rough estimate of a delivery date between 3-5 business days has evolved to following your Big Mac’s trip from the closest McDonald’s to your door. Food and same-day grocery delivery apps are pioneering the real-time tracking of order delivery. 

GPS tracking, barcodes, and radio frequency identification tags can help courier companies provide transparent tracking for parcels.

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2. Electric Vehicles

South African courier companies are starting to shift towards using electric vehicles for last-mile delivery.

GreenCape’s 2023 Electric Vehicles Market Intelligence Report says the market size of light delivery vehicles in South Africa is 2.7 million. If a 10% adoption of electric micro-vehicles is applied for the delivery of last-mile food, grocery and e-commerce services, there would be a market of 270,000 vehicles valued at R15 billion. 

Companies like Everlectric and MellowVans produce and lease their electric three-wheelers for cargo delivery to clients like DHL, Takealot, FaithfulToNature, Spar and OK. 

3. Last-Mile Robotics and Drone Delivery

Robotisation and automation are predicted to be the solution to many last-mile delivery challenges. Amazon, for one, has invested millions of dollars in Aurora, an autonomous technology developer. Amazon Pharmacy’s drone deliveries are delivered within an hour of placing the order. This doesn’t cost extra and ensures safe delivery of medications. 

This trend is seen not just globally but in Africa and now South Africa. Zipline UPS has partnered with Zipline, a startup focusing on medical drone delivery, to deliver within Africa. Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, the United States, and, most recently, Japan make use of Zipline’s blood, vaccine, and medical equipment drone delivery.

According to News24, the South African Blood Service (SANBs) is soon to adopt drone delivery technology to transport lifesaving blood between hospitals. Also from News24, in November 2023 Aramex announced a partnership with Dronamics, a cargo drone airline, to introduce a long-range same-day, remotely piloted delivery option to new regions, including South Africa. 

While drone technology sounds promising, it hasn’t been used on a large enough scale to be considered feasible. 

4. Hyper-local and same-day delivery 

As more consumers demand convenience and fast delivery, many companies are incorporating a same-day delivery option – also called hyperlocal delivery. We are seeing this play out in retail strategy where retailers like Checkers can tap into a growing market of consumers who are willing to pay more for faster, same-day delivery.  

This tactic increases revenue, grows market share, and is fundamentally changing the logistics industry.

To conclude, the changing trends in South Africa’s courier space show that the industry is on the rise. If you are a courier company looking to take advantage of the opportunity, get in touch with Geddes to apply for a loan today.

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