In the context of supply chain management, “last mile distribution” is the efficient movement of goods from one place to another. While ideally a seamless process, a lack of physical and digital infrastructure in Africa has left many industry players faced with logistical challenges. 

“The service at the national post office has deteriorated and couriers need an average of 2.5 attempts for every successful delivery, while 75% of the sub-Saharan population has limited access to goods and services because of the areas in which they live,” say Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert, Dutch Co-founders of logistics and delivery company, Pargo. “These areas include informal settlements and rural areas, which often lack proper addresses and couriers find challenging to service. High security housing estates, large office buildings and universities are other examples of areas where courier delivery is tricky.”

Most of us aren’t at home all day waiting for the delivery man. Neither do we have someone to receive parcels on our behalf. This is not only painful for business, but even more so for customers. On a global scale, the cost of logistics is estimated to be around 8% of the shipment value of e-commerce products, while in Africa this figure is a hefty 15%. 

After experiencing such issues first hand, Lars and Derk gave some thought into developing an alternative courier solution that prides itself on speed, convenience and reliability. In 2015, after much deliberation over countless coffee meet-ups, Pargo was born. The company acts as a multichannel platform specialising in smart logistics, giving customers the option of having their parcels delivered to dedicated outlets and collecting them at their convenience. 

Pargo currently has a network of over 2 000 pick-up points and will be expanding into Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. Big names on board as partners with Pargo include FNB, The Foschini Group and Cape Union Mart. 

Pargo’s multichannel delivery frame-work mitigates the effects of South Africa’s stark digital disparity between socio-economic sects. With a flat-rate for returns and deliveries anywhere in the country, their mission is to make delivery more accessible, affordable and convenient for anyone in Africa. 

Essentially, Pargo puts autonomy back into the hands of consumers and shakes up traditional shortfalls of linear delivery we’ve all grown accustomed to. 

Read more in the March/April 2019 issue of Fast Company South Africa.

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