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LOCAL E-TAILER GROWS BY 40% AS MORE SOUTH AFRICANS SHOP ONLINE

Unlike anything the world has seen before, the COVID-19 pandemic fuelled a sudden digital surge that catapulted both global and local eCommerce traffic to unprecedented levels. The closest comparable example – while on a much smaller geographical scale – would be the 2003 SARS crisis, which is today recognised as kickstarting Alibaba’s eCommerce success in Asia.

This is according to Matthew Leighton, spokesperson from OneDayOnly.co.za, who notes the accelerant role that COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown has played in boosting eCommerce uptake across South Africa. “While eCommerce has been gaining gradual traction across the country over the past decade, there is no denying that COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for rapid progress in this regard.

“To put this level of growth into perspective, OneDayOnly is a 30-40% bigger company today than it was just four months ago.”

This rapid growth, however, has not been without its challenges, admits Leighton. “We’re the first to put our hands up and say that we’ve experienced some issues in scaling operations over such a short and unexpected period of time.

“The net result is that a lot of customers have received service well below our standard levels, and for that we offer our sincerest apologies. Although our couriers and suppliers have had issues with adjusting their business approaches too, the responsibility to our customers is ours in its entirety.

“Dispatch at the time of eCommerce reopening proved challenging, with the backlog created over Levels 5 and 4. This in turn created a significant influx in customer queries, meaning our Customer Service department has struggled to respond to customers within our usual time frames. We are working round the clock to ensure normal service is resumed, and can only apologise profusely to any customer who has received less-than-excellent service from us.

“But rest-assured we’ve learnt some valuable lessons that have helped evolve our business, and this will better position us for future shopping peaks such as Black Friday later this year.”

With that said, Leighton rounds up the four biggest lessons that the leading South African e-tailer is taking out of the COVID-19 eCommerce boom.


  1. Safety first

While the safety of staff and customers has always been a top priority, OneDayOnly has ramped up health and safety protocol to the highest COVID-19-compliant degree. Employees who are able to work from home will continue to do so, while all essential warehouse staff have been provided with masks, face shields and sanitiser at each station. They are all temperature-checked before entering the warehouse, and then checked again throughout the day. Once the parcels are packed, they are transferred over to the couriers, who are doing contactless deliveries and have been issued with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  1. Ensure sufficient manpower and personnel

With more people shopping online than ever before, OneDayOnly has quickly expanded its staff complement to better manage the new levels of demand. The business is also placing greater focus on attracting and growing local skills in this sector – efforts that we believe are key to the evolution of a successful e-tailer.

  1. Always be transparent

In any business, especially one that centres on logistics between multiple stakeholders, there will be issues from time to time. In that regard, the rapid increase in growth over this period of time has acted as the ultimate stress test. Regrettably, OneDayOnly has experienced instances where we have been unable to meet customer orders or fulfil delivery, which has understandably been a major cause of customer frustration.

To ensure that these types of issues are swiftly addressed and prevented in the future, the business is in the process of implementing various new customer service measures to provide a clear way forward to customers who are experiencing issues with their orders. In addition, OneDayOnly has revised the supply chain protocol to ensure adequate future capacity in this regard.

  1. Give South Africans what they want!

One thing that has become apparent during lockdown is that South African consumers’ needs are fluid. That being said, South Africans want what they want when they want it, and there are no half measures. From toilet paper and hand sanitizer, to home gym equipment and, most recently, liquor – OneDayOnly has committed to staying one step ahead of the trend by conducting continuous research in order to meet the country’s ever-changing consumer demands.

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