2020 was a rollercoaster of a year filled with twists, turns, ups and lock-downs, which threw any semblance of normality out the window.

But, despite this uncertainty, last year made one thing clear for retailers and consumers alike — ecommerce is the future, and it has quickly become an essential part of the new normal.

A recent survey by Mckinsey & Company revealed that there is a 90% growth in South African consumers who use ecommerce since lockdown began in March 2020. Along with this meteoric growth, came another rising star in the form of Click & Collect, which according to the same Mckinsey survey has become habit-forming.

In the report, 68% of consumers who used Click & Collect for the first time during lockdown stated that they will continue using this delivery method.

An alternative to traditional delivery methods, Click & Collect empowers online shoppers with the ability to collect their orders at designated pickup points of their choice instead of waiting at home for delivery.

With people confined to their homes during lockdown, one might think that Click & Collect was not a popular choice for consumers but the numbers tell a very different story.

Pargo has revealed that they experienced a staggering 153% growth last year. Though the initial stages of lockdown put a halt to ecommerce, 2020 ended being a record year for the smart logistics company.

The broad adoption of Click & Click seen in 2020 can largely be attributed to three main reasons, an increase in online shopping due in part to the influence of COVID-19 and subsequent nationwide lockdowns, the need for innovative delivery options that are quick to implement, and greater access to both consumers and retailers.

Every year it gets repeated, South African ecommerce is booming, but 2020 made it loud and clear. Lockdown and the threat of exposure to the coronavirus forced thousands of consumers into becoming online shoppers for the very first time.

“We’ve experienced the exponential growth of ecommerce first hand with a large 240% year on year increase in Click & Collect orders sent to our Pargo Pickup Points over the last two months,” said Lars Veul, CEO of Pargo.

To follow the migration from ‘brick to clicks’, businesses and industries had to digitise faster than before. A key part of this transformation is finding delivery methods that can reach South Africans living in both rural and urban areas. These delivery methods also had to be affordable and quick to integrate. Many found this solution in Click & Collect.

The agility of implementing Pargo Click & Collect can clearly be seen in their partnership with South Africa’s top tertiary institutions, including The University of Cape Town (UCT), The University of the Free State (UFS) and Rhodes University, which solved one of the unique challenges of 2020.

With Covid-19 migrating teaching to e-learning platforms, universities were presented with a new challenge — reaching under-digitised students around the country. By partnering with Pargo, universities could quickly send students their study materials to any one of over 3,000 pickup points located across South Africa, which the students could also use to return assignments.

Through this tailored distribution solution, Pargo assisted students living in both cities and smaller towns. More than half of all orders were delivered to towns located in the far corners of South Africa, including Giyani, Burgersfort and the farming town of Malelane.

In 2020, etailers quickly realised the benefits Click & Collect holds for their customers. Many big retailers, including Mr Price, Puma, Le Coq Sportif and rain, partnered with Pargo last year to give their customers the comfort of collecting online orders at a time that suits them best, resulting in even more consumers adopting Click & Collect as their preferred delivery method.

By using Pargo’s network of nationwide pickup points, found in popular stores like Clicks, SPAR and Caltex, etailers can reach consumers who are normally unable to enjoy the convenience of online shopping due to them living in areas which are difficult to service through traditional methods. Pargo’s network of pickup points grew by 42% last year, exceeding their milestone of 3 000 pickup points, giving even more consumers easy access to ecommerce.

On Pargo’s plans for 2021 and the future of Click & Collect, Veul says: “Pargo has many ambitions for 2021. These include launching new products, growing our team as we scale upwards and expanding our network of pickup points even further. Africa has massive potential for ecommerce growth and we’ve only started chipping away at the iceberg. We envision a time where there will be a pickup point within 10 minutes reach of every African.”