The South African Post Office has signed an agreement with Mail Americas which will give online traders much better access into all of Southern Africa, including rural areas.
Mail America is an eCommerce platform that specialises in providing cross-border business-to-customer solutions to postal operators. It focuses on connecting businesses with customers in Latin America and Africa.
In terms of the agreement, the South African Post Office will provide distribution services to clients of Mail Americas in South Africa and the subcontinent.
The Post Office recently signed a similar agreement with Wish.com. Wish said it will be working directly with SAPO to create a more consistent and efficient experience for customers in South Africa.
This will include:
- Average 50% faster transit times;
- End-to-end tracking visibility and delivery confirmation;
- Customers to receive bundled shipments for multiple items;
- SMS and physical notifications on deliveries awaiting collection.
The post office said that several consignments from Wish have already arrived in South Africa since the agreement between the two companies came into effect.
The parcels in the first consignment have been collected by customers, and the Post Office urges customers who receive an SMS requesting collection to collect their parcel from their local branch.
“We want to deliver the kind of service our customers deserve,” said Post Office chief executive Nomkhita Mona. “In fact, our focus is now shifting towards an obsession with the customer.”
Mona said that the Post Office is so serious to achieve this that operational managers volunteered to work over a weekend on sorting floors, processing incoming parcels.
Customers should soon see a difference in the delivery timeframe for the one million items that the Post Office delivers daily, she said.
Block on small parcels
The increased push into e-commerce by the Post Office comes as it aims to block courier companies from delivering packages weighing 1kg and less.
In a ruling handed down in late 2019, communications regulator Icasa found that PostNet had contravened the Postal Services Act by transporting and delivering such packages.
As the only operator of this kind in South Africa, the Post Office has the exclusive right to provide delivery services for all letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels, and other postal articles up to and including 1kg.
PostNet was initially ordered to stop delivering all packages weighing 1kg and less by 17 March 2020. However, it secured an interdict which allowed it to continue to deliver these packages until the full challenge was heard in the Gauteng High Court.
The Post Office, Postnet and the South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) are now set to head to court in a move that could have ramifications for the entire courier industry in South Africa.