What is the best courier service for businesses in South Africa?

Image Source: Unsplash

Online and in-app shopping is exploding at the moment! In part, this is due to the global pandemic, but also given the needs of our “instant gratification” culture. People know what they want, and they want it NOW. With changing trends, new technologies and consumers living busy lives, customers expect to have a product delivered to their doorstep in a flash. As a result, the process, cost, and contact that your customer has with your chosen delivery service is a vitally important consideration when purchasing from your business. Thankfully, South Africa is home to countless courier services that can offer a logistics/delivery solution to your business. But the question remains: how do we entrepreneurs choose the best solution for our unique business needs?

How to choose the best courier for your business?

From the moment that your parcel arrives at the customer’s door, to them actually unboxing their eagerly awaited splurge, is a critical moment for your business. It’s a core component of building a relationship with your customer, and has immense power to elicit future sales and thriving brand loyalty. In order to make the most of this dynamic opportunity, it’s important to consider your choice of courier company from both the perspective of what suits your operation, and how your customers will be best served.

Speed and delivery times: Do you require same, or next-day delivery requests? Bear in mind what your local (same city) competitors are offering, to make sure you stay ahead of the pack in honouring customer convenience as a top priority. In fact, speedy service is so important to us, research shows that as many as 88% of consumers are happy to pay even more for faster delivery.

What are you sending? How big are the parcels, and what do they weigh? Are your goods perishable or fragile? Not all courier companies can handle all types of deliveries equally smoothly: If you’re delivering perishable goods, you’ll need refrigerated transport; and hazardous, chemical, or fragile items may need to be handled with special precautions in mind.

Where do you want to go? Do you require delivery within your city? Perhaps you need to ship nationally or internationally? Would you prefer this door-to-door, or sent to a depot and collected by your customer? Make sure your chosen courier will be able to service your entire network, and also offers the space for your business to keep growing and expanding its reach, in future.

Proof of delivery and tracking: It’s crucial to know exactly what’s happening with your package when it hits the road, because delivering on your speed promise to customers fosters trust and keeps them happy. With parcel tracking and proof of delivery, you and your clientele will have the comfort of peace of mind, as everyone’s expectations are accountably managed along the way.

Customer Service: Unfortunately, your customers will associate whatever service they get from your courier partner, with their experience of your business. So, it’s always important to get a good feel for how well deliveries are being executed, by looking at online reviews, social media, and small business forums. It’s equally important that you be treated like gold, which means it can be better to partner with a smaller company that actually cares about your business. They should be enthusiastic about taking the time to really understand and prioritise your business’ needs.

Cost vs value: In deciding how much you’re willing to pay, remember that the cheapest is not necessarily the most best value choice – a stellar shipping experience has the power to boost sales, and eliminate pricey operational blunders! Next, consider the full picture of how you’ll be charged, and what the practical nuances of your financial arrangement will be: What payment terms are available, and do they suit your cash flow strategy? Are there complications like minimum purchase requirements, added extras (like insurance) or other commitments?

Insurance: Mistakes happen and things go wrong! But, that’s no reason to panic – you should be able to rest assured that if a parcel fails to arrive, is stolen, or is damaged in transit, your business won’t be stuck with the bill. So, it’s invaluable to carefully select a service package that offers comprehensive insurance built-in, or pay extra if need be.
Tip: Read the fine print to make sure that the types of goods you’re shipping are covered – for example, some policies don’t insure glass, electrical or other especially high-risk goods.

Image Source: Wumdrop

Let’s compare some of the best local options:

Courier: Fastway Courier Guy Dawn Wing CourierIT Post Office WumDrop
Year Launched

1983

2000

1989

2001
1991

2014

National Operator?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Limited to INTRA-city “last-mile” delivery in JHB, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Durban, Bloem, Polokwane and Nelspruit. No deliveries between cities.

Do you need to set up a business account?

Yes

Yes, for regular business deliveries. However, once-off options without an account are also available.

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Account Options

Prepaid

Prepaid, or 30-day term account

Unclear

Unclear

Flexible

30-day billing. Tiered account pricing based on deliveries per month.

Minimum Purchase Requirements

20 orders

Must make R1150 deposit and maintain a minimum balance.

Unclear

Unclear

None

1 order p.m.

All-in cost (incl VAT)* 

R145

R162

R198

R200

R177

Local delivery only

Standard Delivery Time**

2 - 4 days

3 - 4 days

2 - 4 days

2 - 4 days

2 - 5 days

Same Day

Parcel Tracking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Parcel Insurance

Standard R1000

Standard R1000

Costs 2% of parcel value

No cover for damage or theft

Costs 3% of parcel value
(up to R5,000)

Every load is insured for up to R40,000

E-commerce/ API plug-in

Shopify and WooCommerce

Only WooCommerce

Shopify and WooCommerce

No

No

Yes - but requires some technical assistance from the WumDrop team. Also supports bulk order upload on Excel.

Hello Peter Rating (max 5)***

1.55

2.04

1.51

1.38

1.53

1.58

*rates from JHB to CPT. 15kg parcel, 40cmx40cmx40cm
**Standard delivery time, Economy Road Freight. 

*** HelloPeter ratings are generally skewed downward, as customers use this platform primarily to lodge complaints. It is however a useful platform to understand what customers are complaining about. 

****Data Sourced Dec 2020 – Jan 2021.

And the winners are...

For a national delivery solution, Fastway couriers wins our overall vote for city to city delivery. If you’re just starting out, The Courier Guy is also a great alternative given their lower minimum order requirements. However, Fastway is seemingly cheaper and offers a shorter delivery time. A massive plus is that both businesses offer a standard parcel insurance of R1000 in the event of theft or damage – a critical consideration if you’re a savvy entrepreneur. Both boast large national networks, and have higher Hello Peter ratings than Dawn Wing or CourierIT respectively. We recommend reviewing either company’s Hello Peter page to understand the nature of customer complaints, before picking your favourite. When it comes to choosing your shipping experience, you owe it to your business to make the smartest choice. That’s why it’s so important to partner up wisely and bravely, with a company that demonstrably sets itself apart, and puts your business and its clientele first.

For a “last mile”, same-day solution, WumDrop wins our vote.

After our keen assessment, these “new kids on the block” have developed an innovative approach to solving the last-mile delivery problem, and are passionate about seamless service, providing the fastest deliveries around, with low-commitment arrangements and flexible payment agreements. They offer the most comprehensive insurance alongside, and tiered pricing for bigger savings as your business grows. It’s probably for these reason that Makro proceeded to acquire a large portion of the WumDrop business in late 2017, to streamline their own delivery needs.

About getlion

At getlion, it’s our mission to see entrepreneurs succeed. We start by helping them make the best decisions for their business, and sort through the clutter of offerings out there! Beyond that, we’ve set out to build South Africa’s leading one-stop mobile app for entrepreneurs, boasting education, rewards, funding and an online B2B marketplace and more. We’ve also partnered with the country’s leading companies to ensure that our users have access to the best (and often discounted) solutions. Visit getlion.co.za and download the getlion mobile app to enjoy offers from leading partners like Yoco, Zapper and others.