Improving the Post Office

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The South African Post Office (Sapo) board has outlined a strategy aimed at improving services and building a sustainable service platform. 

This will be done by, among others, fixing operations, driving down costs by reviewing current contracts, and implementing other cost containment measures, such as technologies to drive down security costs at branch level.

“As part our fiduciary duty, the board has instructed management to review all contracts that are currently running in the Post Office. Most contracts run for three years and over such a long period, much can change,” Sapo board chairperson Colleen Makhubele said on Thursday.

She was addressing media in Tshwane on the social grant payment system, strategic interventions on e-commerce, Sapo security-related matters, cost containment initiatives and other pertinent issues circulating in the media landscape.

The Auditor General (AG) findings on the Post Office indicated serious irregularities in some of the contracts.

“Some contracts had retainers paid to several service providers without performing any duties and the scope was not clarified. Management must therefore make sure that every current contract continues to offer value for money, and that the services or goods procured through the contract are essential,” Makhubele said.

If not, the contract pricing or conditions will be reviewed.

Makhubele emphasised the importance of staff reskilling and optimisation to improve productivity. 

“We need to automate the internal support functions. Manual processes, resulting in human error and irregularities in our Supply Chain Management processes, are delaying the implementation of our turnaround strategy,” she said.

Makhubele noted that the Post Office is changing and the skill sets of its employees should also change.

“A simple example is our plan to introduce maintenance teams. Where an ageing postman, for example, finds it hard to still complete his rounds, he can apply to be trained as an artisan, who will form part of a maintenance team for our buildings,” she said.

The Post Office has shifted focus to improving its operations and customer relations in order to improve the customer experience to the Universal Postal Union standards, and to retain revenue through better service.

“We have now brought an international tracking system into production. International items will keep their foreign tracking number in SA. Customers can follow the processing of their items all the way and processing is sped up significantly. This saves costs and our employees can be used much more productively,” Makhubele said.

E-commerce with strategic countries

The Post Office has partnered with the Universal Postal Union for e-commerce, which integrates with the systems of other postal administrations including Egypt (North hub); Kenya (East); Ghana (West); SADC countries, BRICS countries and other global players.

“We plan for the platform to serve as a springboard for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa, which will help them showcase and sell their products and services through all of Africa,” Makhubele said.

The Post Office has already enlisted a number of local small businesses that will offer uniquely South African items.  

Sapo is already active in the e-commerce field as a logistics fulfilment company. 

“We import up to 80 000 items per day from abroad through the postal system. Our online shopping platform will focus on all six types of e-commerce, namely business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer, consumer to business, business to administration and administration to administration,” Makhubele said.

The Post Office has introduced deliveries to door for e-commerce parcels. 

“We have integrated our transport systems for logistics and international. In essence, where possible, a courier truck will transport e-commerce items. Because of this, our delivery standards have improved dramatically.

“We now plan to introduce a GPS system to optimise routes for our drivers on their deliveries and introduce a card payment system, which customers can use to pay import duties where our drivers deliver a foreign parcel to them,” Makhubele said. –

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