Online Sellers and Shipping Challenges

shipping(9 April 2015) The 2015 bidorbuy shipping survey results indicate that last year’s prolonged postal strike negatively affected 63% of bidorbuy sellers. Hardest hit were the small business owners, who find it difficult to compete with larger retailers and are concerned that the uncertainty of reliable delivery spells disaster for their online businesses.

Of 1137 sellers who took part, 66.5% sell regularly on the South African online marketplace, while 33.5% sell from time to time.

Sellers on bidorbuy range from small one-man businesses through to large retailers. For the majority of regular sellers, trading on bidorbuy is a source of income they count on. For some it is their primary income, while others run their bidorbuy business as a means to generate a supplementary income. 

Even though most sellers also offer courier as one of their shipping methods, 55% of buyers select to receive their purchase via Post Office, counter-to-counter. Understandably so, because this option is the cheapest. For many buyers, an additional R50 or more for a courier delivery is simply too much. Fearing that they would not receive their parcels and unwilling to pay more for a courier, some buyers opted not to buy at all when Post Office workers went on strike.

Besides the strike, other complaints around the postal service include the risk of theft and damaged goods when using this shipping method. However, surprisingly many bidorbuy sellers had good things to say about the postal service, commenting that they have never experienced any issues other than when the strike was on.

Of course, not all sellers were equally affected by the strike. For sellers who only make use of couriers, or sell digital content, it was business as usual.
The hardest hit were sellers who sell small, low-value items that are not economical to send by a courier and sellers operating from outlying areas that are not serviced by couriers, or are serviced at an extra cost. Also hard hit were the sellers who have their supplies sent from abroad by post.

parcelsA number of bidorbuy sellers live in smaller towns and find that using a courier is too prohibitive. They maintain that keeping a good relationship with their local post office is what keeps their business running smoothly, even throughout the strike.

The sellers who were affected by last year’s strike estimate their losses at between 20% and 70%.“I panicked, because my parcels were already in the mail when the strike broke out”, says one seller. Hours were devoted, mostly in vain, trying to sort things out by phone or email. In the midst of it all, several sellers even decided to send already paid for but not yet dispatched postal delivery orders by a courier, paying for the difference out of their own pockets. Not many could afford to do so. Some are still dealing with parcels sent via the Post Office in August and returned to them in February as undeliverable.

Although several participants pointed out that postal delivery is a reasonable option in normal times, they emphasised that doing business at the mercy of a Post Office strike is simply not on. They are also very concerned about the effects of the Post Office strike and the ensuing chaos scaring would-be buyers away from internet purchasing – if not for good, than for a good chunk of time. “As a pensioner with very little other income, I am actually extremely worried”, says one seller.

In view of the potential of ecommerce to contribute to the economic growth of the country, many bidorbuy sellers believe that the establishment of an affordable, reliable and comprehensive delivery network is a matter of national importance.

All in all, what online sellers  (and their buyers) wish for most ardently is a Post Office that offered the same service as courier companies do, or courier companies that offer the same prices as the Post Office.

In an ideal world, the South African postal service would be reliable and efficient, or courier companies would be better priced and able to reach areas further afield.

bidorbuy Shipping Survey 2015
bidorbuy Shipping Survey 2015 bidorbuy Shipping Survey 2015 bidorbuy Shipping Survey 2015 bidorbuy Shipping Survey 2015

About bidorbuy

bidorbuy is South Africa's largest online marketplace. Established in 1999, the company has created a safe and convenient way for people to buy and sell goods online. As a virtual trading place that brings buyers and sellers together and allows them to buy and sell virtually anything at a fixed price or in an exciting auction format, bidorbuy has created a thriving online marketplace.