Postnet, an Indirect Player in the Fashion Market

By: Dineo Lola Monareng

Unlike the conventional stores, Postnet isn’t the traditional primary approach to buying clothes, but it has now becoming an integral force in the growth of the fashion industry.

PostNet was founded in 1994, 23 years ago (interestingly, around the birth of South Africa’s new democratic dispensation), after a gap in the market was identified for the need for efficient business solutions. It has since grown  into a chain of over 320 stores and services 55 000 customers daily across the country – yes, daily. It offers services such as providing solutions for small to medium businesses, making courier and express parcel distribution.

In 2014 Postnet was purchased by Aramex, a publicly-traded company on the Dubai Financial Market and employs more than 13 900 people in 354 locations across 60 countries, for a cash sum of R190.5 million with the aim of expanding their reach not only in South Africa but also within greater Africa.

source: ewn.co.za

The aforementioned services are beneficial to a wide market, for purposes of this article, the focus will be on young and/or emerging  designers and businesses who do not have the resources to service their consumers in terms of delivery of goods or permanent brick and mortar locales.

Fashion enterprising in 2018 has proven to be very fluid and Postnet acts as the middleman, wielding influence in the start-up fashion market, indirectly. As a player in the market of delivery of goods, Postnet has done what the South African Post Office (SAPO) has failed to do, which is delivering goods to consumers timeously, thereby ensuring consumer trust, in contrast.

When Burton Tansky, the then CEO of Nieman Marcus stores asked Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour to help with delivery of merchandise in R J Cutler’s fashion documentary ‘the September Issue’, he was on to something; Consumers want the goods, and they want them now.

We’re probably all familiar with the aunt who sends items from a part of South Africa to a distant corner of Mzans’, there are many modes of doing so, yet for many of us – through word of mouth marketing, Postnet is the preferred mode of couriering goods across country. This can also be attributed to the advent of social media, and ‘RT for awareness’ sales of goods.

Fashion businesses post and advertise their clothing on the social pages, namely Facebook, Twitter and popularly Twitter, among others. The intended client sees the garment online, and proceeds to order the said goods, because the young fashion merchant isn’t up and running in the full sense (not that one even needs the traditional market space, in these contemporary times one can secure deals at the click of a button). The brand then proposes Postnet as the delivery outlet, which then usually includes the R99 nationwide delivery fee. Some include the amount with the price of garment, others do not – it then becomes the marketing prerogative of the seller. On average, the Postnet in Braamfontein, Johannesburg situated next to the hip breakfast and lunch eatery, Love Food, is frequented by upcoming fashion designers couriering off goods to clients around South Africa. A second favourite is the Postnet in Newtown, which happens to be in the vicinity of prime sought after apparel stores in the Workshop, Newtown Junction

Additionally, for those who still prefer hardcopy, against mass digital migration, there is also the option that allows one to send hardcopy documents to Africa for a nominal fee. This could aid fashion entrepreneurs who are required to send their portfolios across for perusal and preview by prospective clients and investors.

Consumers, love to have options, in fact it is the efficiency of delivering these options is what has positioned PostNet at the forefront of delivery of merchandise across Southern Africa, toppling the almost defunct SAPO. It also acts a vessel of opportunity for new emerging artists, who like the great founders we often read of who started businesses out of the boot of their cars, or parents’ garage, it gives Vusi from ekasi a chance to strike gold.