Have you shopped online in the past 6 months? We are guessing that the answer to that question in this day and age is yes, and if you haven’t personally then someone in your family probably has bought something online. While shopping online was gaining popularity before the pandemic, this only helped to accelerate its expansion. With this expansion of the e-commerce sector, comes a rapid growth in the courier industry, as courier companies are in demand to deliver purchases around the country. When considering couriers, these are the businesses and people who move deliveries from the beginning of the last-mile process to the end, commonly within 48 hours. 

A Closer Look at the Growth

African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) CEO, Garry Marshall, explains that studies show that the formal courier industry recorded an R8-billion turnover in 2012, and this has since grown to more than R20-billion over the last nine years. This is one industry that, despite COVID-19 lockdowns, has managed to continue to grow and prove resilient in the face of the pandemic that impacted other industries drastically (and negatively!). 

Formal vs Informal Sector

In the formal sector, Garry says that there are over 100 courier companies, employing around 18 000 people and with over 10 000 vehicles in operation. However, in the informal sector there are thousands, with the taxi industry transporting packages to customers in more rural areas. 

What’s Being Transported

Before COVID-19, some of the more popular goods being transported by courier companies were automotive parts, but with more people working from home and car sales declining, there has been a drop in this service and an increase in other segments such as e-commerce (business-to-consumer home deliveries) and medication. “In South Africa e-commerce grew by 24% in 2020,” says Garry, “but I think this is wrong. When I look at our industry, this is up by 80% in some cases.” SA is officially ranked as the 37th largest e-commerce market in the world, with this market being dominated by Takealot, Superbalist, Woolworths and Amazon. When the lockdown hit, South African consumers were buying a lot more groceries, alcohol, electronics and healthcare products online too. 

With the introduction of things like Facebook Marketplace and shop facilities on social media, we can expect courier services to remain as busy as ever, and this industry continuing to thrive! 
In order to offer their customers the best service and provide them with real-time tracking of their deliveries, which is something that many customers want, we’d suggest taking a look at TSI’s Digital Control Tower.

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