Postal services company — ZIMPOST — needs aggressive marketing and innovativeness to maintain its relevance on the market at a time technology is taking over the traditional postal services, a new study has revealed.
In a study done by Topline Research Solutions (TRS) for the Postal and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) the market acknowledged Zimpost’s role in the communication sector, but is fast losing relevance due to failure to adapt to the changes and current trends.
According to the report, postal usage has declined significantly to 2 percent for household consumers compared to 4,3 percent recorded in 2015 when a similar survey was last done.
For corporate customers, postal services went down to 9 percent from 21,9 percent recorded in 2015.
The market has made a shift from physical letters to electronic mail, short message service (SMS) while social media has added to the demise of postal services especially for household consumers opting for internet based calls and messaging services such as Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp calling.
According to the report, consumer expectations from ZIMPOST were centred on mail delivery time and pricing while incidences of lost or undelivered parcels remained low.
Generally, those who use the service indicated satisfaction at the service being provided but with room for improvements to catch up with the current market trends and remain useful in the communications sector.
“However, both household and corporate consumers were not quite happy with lack of online tracking services . . . calling for more innovation from the operator (ZIMPOST).
“More effort is required around marketing to ensure that ZIMPOST’s products and services remain relevant in the consumers’ mind. ZIMPOST needs to pay attention to consumer feedback on service experiences to monitor and address issues to do with mail delivery on time and perceptions around incidences of lost or undelivered mail,” reads part of the POTRAZ report.
The same report shows courier services usage in Zimbabwe have also declined significantly for both corporate and household consumers as they opt for cheaper alternatives. Usage has remained high among corporate consumers to the level of 38 percent, although this was a significant decline from 2015 figures of 57,7 percent reported as they now resort to use of buses and trucks as alternatives.
Of the courier service providers operating in Zimbabwe, the market preferred Swift and DHL compared to others — Overnight Express, Courier Connect and FedEx while Skynet was the least preferred with no household consumers.
In general, the survey revealed consumers were to some extend happy with service provision across the telecommunications, postal and courier services although they had concerns over consistent network provision, more innovations to catch up with global standards as well as pricing of products and services.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Harare this week, POTRAZ director general Dr Gift Machengete said the survey was a basic study which provided stepping stones for operators to introspect and improve on their services.
He indicated the authority also had a mandate to ensure products and services were affordable for the market but also considering viability of operators.
“Without you operators, we will fall behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and hence, we need to ensure that you continue to provide services on a sustainable basis.
“However, your sustainability also depends on the consumers’ willingness and ability to buy your services, if consumers shun your services or do not afford the services, there is no business for you.
“It is a delicate balancing act, which requires you to be aware of consumer expectations and service preferences and this requires continuous trekking,” he said.