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Nic Haralambous and Lars Veul discussing the changing face of logistics and a post-COVID19 world

Nic Haralambous, an “obsessively curious” entrepreneur, hosts a weekly webinar dedicated to finding ways to navigate the unusual times we’re in. Recently, Nic hosted Pargo CEO Lars Veul to discuss Covid-related challenges surrounding delivery and logistics.

In the webinar, Lars shed insight into the logistics industry, explaining that the uptick of Click and Collect pre-Covid has been growing in South Africa. Between 2015, when Pargo was founded, and pre-lockdown 2020, the industry saw a tremendous rise in popularity. Since Pargo’s inception customers choosing Click and Collect shot from 5% all the way up to  50% for some of the online retailers Pargo partnered with.

 

Watch the stream below:

 

The Impact Of Lockdown On Pargo And The Logistics Industry

Moving from level 5 to level 4 under lockdown, however Lars explained how the lockdown affected the business, saying:

“In the first two weeks leading into lockdown, we saw a spike in deliveries. When the lockdown started, though, we saw things nearly come to a standstill. At that time, we had secured the security of our people and staff. Then, we turned our focus to the safety of the business. We switched into gear, putting a survival budget in place and considering the different risks and outcomes from lockdown. Now, we are shifting from survival to revival and hopefully, the next phase will be surging so that we can come out of this stronger.”

Revival comes as more businesses are willing to accelerate digital transformation and consider state-of-the-art fulfilment methods. Lars suggested:

“Everybody is open to innovative ideas and new things. One of the positives to emerge is the opportunity for new business. I got a call on the night lockdown was announced from rain mobile, who we had been in talks with for some time, and they said that they were interested in finding a solution, which we launched within about ten days. UCT also made the decision to use our services. There’s a lot happening in the education sectorThere’s been a lot of collaboration with new businesses.”

Referring to the additional time people have since lockdown and the willingness to connect digitally Nic offered:

 

Solving Small Problems, Gaining Big Wins

Lars explained how solving small problems for new clients is exciting, because even a few parcels can be immense for the client:

“Solve small problems. Internally, we are high-fiving when a client comes on board, even if it’s only a few parcels with us. It’s exciting because we have solved a problem for them. It’s small, it’s not a lot, but at this point, it’s a win.” 

Nic’s response highlighted how important the “small wins” are at this time

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New Players Join The Space

When asked about how the competitive scope is looking, Lars replied that the logistics and Click and Collect space might become a little more crowded as a result of the lockdown, as new businesses dive into delivery as alternative service offerings. However, he suggested that this might not be a bad thing, saying:

“I see this more as an opportunity than anything else. One of the things we’re looking at is on-demand deliveries, which means we’d partner with one of the on-demand couriering companies. I think that the market and the industry will grow a lot and it will even itself out and the winners will come out of it.”

Lars continued to explain how Pargo has decided to maintain its business strategy throughout the crisis. He stated that the company is strong at helping companies which require B2C delivery. From a Pargo-perspective, while there might be a reprioritisation of future projects, ultimately the company’s core model will remain unchanged.

To this, Nic replied:

 “A lot of futurists and trend-experts are saying that the whole world is different and everything is going to change. I fundamentally don’t believe that. I think people still want to have parcels delivered. I think people are still going to go to restaurants and I think they’re still going to hug and high-five in a year from now, so I think a lot of advice is to shift – ‘shift your business away from what it did’ – and I think that’s terrible advice. So I am really excited to hear that you guys looked at the option and decided to stick.” 

As a tech disruptor, Pargo is a company which thrives on the adoption of ecommerce. Lars pointed out that one of the upsides to the lockdown has been an acceleration to adopt digital and technological methods. He stated:

“We are a company that thrives on ecommerce, which is good. There’s been an acceleration to adopt digital and technological methods, which I think is great. For example, QR codes have been adopted by big corporate companies, and I never understood why they didn’t have them before. I think there’s more efficiency as things shift. A Zoom meeting, for example doesn’t need to take five hours and a flight.”

Nic agreed with this, saying:

One of the positives we can get out of this is that the world is accelerating as it needs to and getting rid of the things that it should.”

 

Ensuring Pargo’s Team Spirit Stays Strong

Nic asked Lars how, as a leader, he is able to convey security around the global uncertainty to the team.

Lars responded:

In terms of uncertainty, it’s important to look at what is certain. So, for us, we’re looking at our culture and our core values and trying to stick with the things we always did and the things we know.

One of the things we hold as important is transparency. Twice a week, we have a call to remain open about everything, such as operational numbers, and we try to keep the fun still going. We have a “hero of the week” and we have set up a “Zoom Coffee Room” which is a space for people to chat, as they might around the water-cooler for example. So we’re doing what we can to keep the team together and make the team feel safe.”