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Mobile matchmaker

A new mobile application and website have become the quickest way for transport and courier companies to interact with cargo owners, writes Tristan Wiggill. 

We found this out for ourselves during the Johannesburg launch of Snapcart, held at Microsoft South Africa’s Bryanston office last month.

"We see ourselves as a technology enabler for the courier and transport industry. We have created a platform where cargo owners are connected to transporters and/or couriers through our website or mobile applications. We provide quotes for them on those shipments," explained Kobus van der Westhuizen, director at We Quote, the company that owns and operates Snapcart.  

The rationale for the application is logical; transporters often use set routes where loads are carried one way on two-leg return journeys. The same problem applies to the courier industry.  

Connecting the dots

"A lot of business is being lost and we want to connect the dots. The Snapcart solution is designed for everyone – the man in the street, SMMEs and large corporates. Currently, people search for suitable transport or courier companies online, use digital or printed business directories or simply phone around. These time-consuming methods don’t provide instant quotes and users remain unaware of the reputations of the companies they're contacting. They don't know if a company has goods-in-transit (GiT) insurance. We provide this information,” he said. 

Snapcart vets service providers using its services, by checking that they are registered with CIPC and have GiT insurance. Transporters and couriers wanting to use the service are required to upload details of their GIT, via the Snapcart app. 

“We visit the CIPC website to establish who owns the businesses. We need to give customers peace of mind that, should something go wrong, the transporter or courier involved is adequately covered.” 

"The benefit for transport and courier companies using the app is that they essentially have potential clients on tap, at their fingertips." - Andre Trollip, Snapcart director 

Push-route notifications inform registered transport and courier companies when suitable loads have been uploaded. Registered companies can choose to see every posted shipment or can narrow it to specific load types or regions. Users get notified of new loads immediately so that arrangements can be made to secure a return load, even while drivers are in transit.  

Smart shopping

Companies bid on available shipments on the app, with other transporters/couriers able to see the bids for any given load. They cannot see who has made a bid/s. 

“The app is adaptive in that if one wishes to transport liquid bulk, the app won't ask for length and height dimensions as with general cargo. Companies whose bids are rejected are informed as to the reasons while winning bidders are notified instantly that they have been successful,” Van der Westhuizen explained.

Proof of delivery (POD) has to be recorded and uploaded to the app at the point of delivery. Once this process has been completed, the agreed funds are released. Shortly, it will be possible to sign PODs directly on mobile devices, which will then be sent to Snapcart's servers. 

The Snapcart app takes care of all required documents electronically, including invoices, which is highly convenient as paper PODs often get damaged and/or lost. A lot of information is also preloaded onto the app, including verified addresses, thereby eliminating the chance of addresses being entered incorrectly or being misspelt.  

Being a business broker, Snapcart receives a small fee on each shipment processed, which is paid for by cargo owners. The amount charged remains flat for couriers and works on a sliding scale – from 2.5% to 10% – for cargo owners that make use of transporters.

Rate and locate

Transporters and couriers are rated by customers on the quality of the services they deliver, with cargo owners deciding whose services to use based on price and/or user ratings. 

Users are able to track the whereabouts of drivers transporting/couriering their goods, as opposed to the goods themselves. 

Accident and fleet management capabilities are also being planned, which should appear in future app updates, along with e-toll mapping and incident reporting, among other features. 

The Snapcart application is a free download from the iOS or Google Play app stores and registration is free.