Webinar: Rebuilding Your Business With Pargo, Peach Payments And eComplete

Following the civil unrest of July 2021, Pargo was invited to participate in a webinar to discuss the impact of rioting and looting on businesses in South Africa. Together with the host, Peach Payments, Pargo and fellow panellist eComplete set out to offer business owners solid advice to navigate through these challenging times.

Each of the panellists, Rahul Jain (Peach Payments), Steven Jowell (Pargo) and Allen Jaffe (eComplete), were given a few minutes to take the audience through their business and fields of expertise. Together they covered everything from perfecting online payments to taking your business online for the very first time.

On the topic of last-mile logistics, Steven Jowell, Sales Director at Pargo, led the discussion.

“Pargo is essentially a tech-based business solving last-mile delivery issues that are faced in South Africa. South Africa has some unique challenges in getting goods out to customers. Bad addresses, perhaps some low tech-enabled couriers and security issue.”

“What we’ve done to solve this is we’ve partnered with a bunch of courier companies as well as independent businesses around the country to set up over 3,000 pickup point locations around the country.”

“With Pargo, you can effectively deliver to these pickup locations safely, conveniently and in a guaranteed way. On top of that, we’ve extended the tech that we built to enable businesses both large and small to do Click and Collect within their own stores.”

“The benefits there are really about getting the benefits of online shopping while still being able to drive foot traffic into stores. That’s proven to be quite a beneficial model for many retailers. So that’s a brief overview of us.”

“Let’s talk a little bit about last week. I think in the logistics world it was quite a hectic week. At Pargo, we were impacted on a bunch of different levels. We’ve got our clients, the retailers or the online retailers, who need to get their goods out to their customers. We’ve got the couriers who have to do the transport. And then we’ve also got our pickup points, which are a combination of chains such as Clicks as well as independent retailers. Unfortunately, everybody was hit really, really hard.”

“Within the affected areas, shops were closed, warehouses had to be closed, couriers couldn’t get in and out, and of course many of our pickup points had to be closed too.”

“It became a week of a lot of communication, a lot of understanding of what was going on. Our courier partners were sending us daily updates of which routes they were going on and which were closed. To be quite frank, they were severely affected in the KwaZulu-Natal area.”

“Both our courier partners lost their main hubs in the Durban area. Both were completely ransacked and burned to the ground to the extent that one actually lost all their bakkies and trucks as the looters used them to take the goods away. They’ve been exceptionally fast at setting up again. They’ve moved to different locations within the province and are pretty much back up and running.”

“We had to deactivate many of our pickup points and communicate to our customers where there were going to be issues.

“So how do you get this right? What advice can we give you? Well, I think, building on from what Rahul said, building your digital business and/or refreshing your digital offering is absolutely important.”

“That means establishing a great fulfilment strategy that can meet your needs but also be resilient to these sorts of times. My recommendation is to rethink some of the traditional models that you’ve used for fulfilment and get the best of both worlds in both digital and brick and mortar stores. Click and Collect offers you the opportunity to welcome customers back into your stores as well as enhancing your digital offering.”

“Where you do have logistics partners, I do hope they’ve been communicating well with you. If not, get in touch very, very fast and understand what their turn-on strategies are. Things are getting back to normal for them relatively fast so you must communicate this to your customers.”

“Where we have seen some levels of interesting success is some of our clients who are utilising our technology for Click and Collect in their stores have been able to use the same technology to fulfil orders from those stores.”

“So what that’s done is where one warehouse or store has lost its ability to deliver, they’ve been able to shift fulfilment into other stores, thereby diversifying their risk. So you can pretty much use stores as mini-warehouses if you like”

“Some of the key takeaways for us as a business coming from a very rough week was something we saw very much from the couriers as well as the stores was a safety-first approach. There is nothing worth saving that puts a life or human being at risk. Keeping your employees, customers and partners safe should be your top priority.”

“At the end of the day, these are the people who are going to be rebuilding after the crisis and there is always after a crisis.”

“Second is keeping your logistics partners close. You need to know exactly what is going on at all times, where they are and what they can achieve.”

“That takes me to the third point, which is a detailed crisis communication plan. Here it is, act fast and over-communicate. Now there will always be some that aren’t happy with your service regardless of what’s going on. We actually had an irate client who phoned us up to ask why her goods hadn’t been collected from the warehouse. She had been completely oblivious to the news but she soon apologised and backed down once she realised what was going on.”

“I also think what we’re seeing is an incredible community spirit. That has come through during what was happening last week as well as the rebuild and cleanup that’s happening now. That’s something to harness. I think all great businesses, especially small businesses are able to harness a good, strong community.”

“I think it also becomes important for all of us South Africans to understand that what went on last week was not just about politics or just about people throwing oil, but there is a deeper, let’s call it burning embers of poverty and so on in this country. I think we all owe it to our communities to uplift. We can’t rely on the government to just do that for us.”

“Despite what happened, don’t lose sight of your vision. I think it’s very important to understand where your digital vision needs to be and how you’re going to fulfil that vision. Understand what you do and focus on what you can achieve. That’s the best way to leverage what you’ve already built and come out of the hard times a little bit better.”

Transcribed from the webinar, Rebuilding Your Business.

Watch the full webinar below.

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