The SA Post Office (SAPO) CEO Mark Barnes recently said he wants the company to become the preferred delivery partner of South African online shops.

Barnes said SAPO will accomplish this by launching an ecommerce platform in April 2019, investing in the organisation’s infrastructure and working with “local and international online retail players”.

According to Barnes, the move to become a strong ecommerce player will be a big revenue stream for the Post Office.

This plan, however, is nothing new.

When Barnes took over as Post Office CEO three years ago he punted the potential of online shopping deliveries through their extensive network.

There is a good reason why this grandiose plan did not materialise to date: the Post Office cannot be trusted to deliver letters or packages on time.

Recent MyBroadband tests revealed that it can take months for a letter to be delivered in South Africa, and according to user feedback the same holds for online shopping parcels.

Local ecommerce companies also told MyBroadband that the SA Post Office does not have the IT systems needed to support proper online shopping operators.

In fact, the SAPO website is often down and many consumers complain that they struggle to track packages and get feedback from the organisation when there are problems.

People do not trust the SA Post Office

This lack of trust has been reinforced by MyBroadband’s recent ecommerce survey, which revealed that 80% of online shoppers do not trust the SA Post Office to deliver online shopping parcels.

The survey was completed by 2,161 South Africa consumers – providing a good overview of the local online shopping market.

The survey results show that 86% of online shoppers prefer to have their package delivered by a door-to-door courier service.

Other delivery services like in-store pick-up (8%) and pick-up point or pick-up locker (4%) also proved more popular than the Post Office (3%).

Alternatives to the SA Post Office

The negativity towards the SA Post Office is not surprising considering its reputation for slow deliveries and lost packages.

The majority of survey respondents said fast delivery is extremely important to them when it comes to shopping online, which the Post Office will struggle to achieve.

In fact, the poor service levels from SAPO have given birth to many local online shopping parcel delivery services, including courier companies and pick-up networks.

Pargo, for example, built its smart logistics company because ecommerce companies “make as little use of the local Post Office as possible”.

The company built an alternative to the Post Office by allowing people to send and receive parcels to thousands of Pargo pick-up points throughout the country.

In fact, local delivery companies were so successful at providing an alternative to the Post Office that most online shops do not even list the Post Office as a delivery option.

For the Post Office to now convince online shops to send parcels via its network, and trust it with fast and reliable delivery, will be very challenging indeed.

Online shopping survey results

The table below provides an overview of the results of MyBroadband’s 2019 eCommerce Survey.

Which delivery method do you prefer?
Answer Percentage
Door-to-door courier service 85%
In-store pick-up 8%
Pick-up point or pick-up locker 4%
Post Office 3%
Where do you prefer to have your online shopping packages delivered?
At home 57%
At work 40%
Other 3%
Which of these delivery services have you used before?
DHL 49%
The Courier Guy 46%
FedEx 44%
Aramex 40%
RAM 39%
Dawn Wing 37%
FastWay 29%
DSV 17%
Pargo 12%
Globe Flight 11%
Do you trust the South African Post Office to deliver your online shopping parcel?
Yes 20%
No 80%
Which payment method do you prefer?
Credit card 55%
EFT 24%
Third-party payments 17%
eBucks 2%
Other 2%

Now read: The SA Post Office is truly delusional