Although online shopping was originally banned under the Government’s lockdown regulations – along with other ‘strange but true’ forbidden activities like not being able to buy open sandals, T-shirts or golf shirts – online shopping was later taken off the crime list and has since boomed.
One company which saw this as an opportunity was Serco, which is now offering two new vehicles purpose-built for the delivery and collection of goods in the burgeoning online sales market in South Africa.
The first is an insulated truck which is 20% lighter than the company’s usual product and the other is a dry freight solution for the transport of products such as electrical goods and computers as well as all sizes and shapes of home appliances.
“The lockdown has triggered a rise in online shopping which most likely is expected to continue after the pandemic settles. This has caught many online retailers flat footed as they gear up to handle the logistics at these higher volumes,” says Serco CEO Clinton Holcroft.
“During the lockdown, we researched what we, as vehicle bodybuilders, needed to offer as solutions for our customers and came up with these two new designs which are ideal for businesses in the online sales industry.”
Serco initially launched the new ‘chiller body’ for body sizes under 3.1m in length but have fast-tracked the development and now can offer insulated bodies right up to 6m, ideal for distribution and home deliveries of food products and pharmaceuticals requiring temperatures between -4 and +8 degrees C.
“Many home deliveries are done using bakkies and motorbikes but as the market has grown, so too has the requirement for bigger and more suitable vehicles which are temperature controlled to suit food transport,’ says Holcroft, adding that lightweight aluminium shelving is offered to accommodate whatever boxes, crates and perishable products clients need to transport.
In the dry freight vehicle range, several options are available, including units with conventional seamless fibreglass panels through to lightweight versions especially suitable for the smaller bodies giving more payload while offering improved security and protection against water damage as compared to curtain siders and conventional steel bodies. A variety of lightweight shelving options are also available.
“Key aspects are that the newly designed vehicles for online distribution can be built to spec and delivered within three or four weeks and are price competitive and lighter than conventional options,” says Holcroft.