Over the past few years, the rapid growth in the use of electronic mobile devices has made the postal business less relevant. At the end of 2013, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe reported mobile penetration had reached 103 percent. There are about 13,5 million registered mobile phone accounts in a country of 13 million people.
Gone are the days when people would now and again check their mail boxes. Now, people all over the country check the in-box.
The market has changed. Zimpost this week made the encouraging revelation that it plans to premise its business on technology-driven products. That information technology plays a big role in information dissemination, courier services and in moving money is undeniable.
However, Zimpost has taken a little too long to appreciate this. This has seen the company surrendering business, market share and subsequently, revenue to other players.
Zimpost was handling 100 million pieces of mail yearly in 2010, but is now carrying only 14 million. Total revenue has slumped to US$20 million.
However, having embraced a technology-driven strategy, Zimpost should see growth.
The announcement by managing director Dr Douglas Zimbango that Zimpost is to provide universal, technology-driven and affordable postal courier communications and agency services presents hope for the company and eventually for the millions of Zimbabweans who have relied on its business in the past.
Zimpost will anchor its business on Zipcash, a money transfer service that sits on an electronic platform called IFS and provides domestic and international money transfers.
In short, IFS is replacing money orders and locally, this service can also be used for pension payments.
There is intense competition in the industry and consistent review of operations and approach is a necessity. This calls for a focused, well thought-out strategy that takes advantage of developments in the electronic courier services business. It must be noted that even with technology, innovation is vital. Thinking outside the box is a must. A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis could help Zimpost identify weaknesses in its system.
Zimpost already boasts an impressive branch network which presents a platform for safe and secure services.
With its 250-branch network, Zimpost should formulate a marketing strategy that feeds into its already existing extensive distribution set-up.
New technologies should not be seen as threats to the business but rather as catalysts that will help Zimpost re-invent itself.
The business should now position itself and take advantage of its network particularly in the digital era we are in.
Sooner or later online shopping is going to be big in Zimbabwe.
When one buys a product from an e-commerce site, the order is placed on the Internet. But in the end, goods are not delivered electronically.
Zimpost, therefore, needs to look into the logistics business the way DHL operates and be the physical link between sellers and buyers.
Using its postal branch network, Zimpost could rise to reclaim the lost market share by thinking creatively and moving with the times
The company could as well take advantage of the growth in mobile penetration in Zimbabwe. Mobile-based products could prove profitable for Zimpost.
There is also potential in using hand-held devices to save time and reduce labour costs. This helps in reducing the paper headache therefore reducing waste and saving trees and other resources.
The company could partner local and international firms in specific areas to enhance services. Strategic linkages will develop Zimpost capacity to launch new products ahead of competitors and improve its revenue base.
What comes to mind easily is the strategy on how to offer better, reliable and cheaper services in money transfers. Already, Zimpost has a safe and secure presence in almost every part of the country and this could serve as a comparative advantage against its competitors.