Here are the changes planned for South Africa’s post offices

The South African Post Office (SAPO) presented its new turnaround plan to parliament on Tuesday (13 October) as it battles with financial problems compounded by the coronavirus lockdown.

The post office said that it has been ‘severely impacted’ by the pandemic and lockdown measures which has ‘ravaged’ the business that is dependent on physical customer presence and in-branch footprints.

It added that the return of customers to the branches has been slower than anticipated.

“A key focus is placed on revenue retention and recovery to bring some financial stability in the short term,” the post office said.

“(This will see) the positioning of SAPO as an affordable, reliable logistics and delivery company of choice that will attract business from the higher Living Standards Measure (LSM).”

The SAPO has also proposed a number of planned changes, including:

  • Owner-managed branches – The SAPO has proposed the launch of an ‘owner-managed’ branch model. This model will provide distribution services and help reduce operating costs.
  • Improved courier services – The SAPO plans to establish strategic partnerships with willing investors to recapitalise and revive the organisation’s courier and logistics business segment. This will include the consolidation of the Docex subsidiary as well as the courier and freight segments of the business. Scale up the Logistics business capability.
  • Delivery on demand – The post office plans to implement a delivery platform as an aggregator for owners of vehicles, including trucks, light commercial vehicles, and sedans, to undertake deliveries on demand. This will allow greater delivery access and speed for customers, it said.
  • New digital services  – This includes the launch of an e-commerce and online shopping platform.
  • Data – The SAPO said that it will look at monetising the large amounts of data that exist within the organisation, and will mine existing data in compliance with privacy laws.

While not mentioned in its turnaround strategy, Communications and Digital Technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says that her department plans to introduce a number of new features to the post office.

In a media statement on Friday (9 October), the minister that these service offerings will primarily be ‘digitally-focused’ but will also include services traditionally offered through the Department of Home Affairs.

“Among some of the government services which the post office wishes to provide in the immediate future includes but (are) not limited to the renewal of driver’s licences and applications for ID books and passports at its branches.

“But even more importantly, ensuring that the department and government achieve their objectives of building a digitally connected society,” she said.

Motorists and fleet owners whose car licences have expired can already renew their discs at the post office.

To achieve this digital focus, Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the post office is currently repositioning its e-commerce strategy to be a driver of global exports and to enhance intra-African trade under the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

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Here are the changes planned for South Africa’s post offices