You’ve ordered something online. You sit at home, waiting for days and days for it to arrive… and it finally comes when you’re out. Damn. Or it doesn’t arrive at all. Even more damn. Sound familiar?
Well, South African e-courier startup Pargo is solving your problem.
“We became frustrated with the logistical challenges of parcel delivery and decided to offer an alternative,” says co-founder Lars Veul.
According to Veul, there are a myriad of last-mile challenges currently frustrating parcel delivery in many African markets. People are often not at home at the time a courier delivers their parcels, leading to high costs and irate customers. There is also a lack of proper addressing in informal settlements, and rural areas are expensive to service. In addition, disruptions at national Post Offices further complicate matters.
Pargo solves these problems by allowing users to send and receive parcels at dedicated pick-up points throughout the country. Users can find a convenient Pargo point using the online postcode search engine – there are 750 points around South Africa -; and can send and receive parcels at a time that suits them. Customers can track parcels online; while the service also caters for returns.
For the pick-up points, there is the Pargo app to work with, to ensure streamlined stock management.
“Pargo allows retailers and couriers to lower their cost of distribution, while the pick-up points benefit from the increased foot traffic and customers,” Veul says.
The main competitor to Pargo would be local Post Offices, but Veul says the service is declining to such an extent that a reliable alternative is desperately needed.
“Traditionally the Post Office would be the service to use for a door-to-counter delivery, but the service disruptions and declining service levels have forced retailers to look into alternatives. Many of these retailers are now using Pargo. We focus on the customer’s experience and work from there. Convenience,” he says.
According to Veul, the need for a suitable logistics solution is accelerating in South Africa, driven by factors such as the growing middle income group, the prevalence of accessible fintech solutions, and smartphone penetration. With all these advances already made, logistics is the area lagging behind, he says.
“The South African market is ready for an increase in commerce, the last – very important – thing that was still lacking was innovative logistics solutions. This innovation is not only needed for all the new e-commerce companies that are up and coming, but also ‘traditional’ companies such as banks, telecom providers, and educational companies, who need better ways to get their products to their consumers.”
Today, over 500 businesses have already migrated to using Pargo as their courier partner in South Africa, and the startup has big plans to scale further, and add business-to-consumer services as well.
“We plan to further invest in our tech and improve current systems while also develop extra services. We will also keep on growing our network of Pargo points throughout the country to ensure that there is a pick-up point in every town or suburb in the country,” Veul says.