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E-commerce Enhancing Shipments For African Mechants

Sanday
Chongo Kabange



HONG KONG –
For three years, Kossi Serge has been buying various items in Hong Kong and
China for resale in his native African country of Togo.



Serge – who
supports a family of six back in Africa – runs a small business which supplies
electronic gadgets and clothing to Togolese. Although he is based out of Hong
Kong, where he sources his products, he normally travels to Togo at least twice
in a month.



 “It is costly for me to fly in and out of Hong
Kong to ferry these lap tops, LCD TVs or phones to Togo,he said. I am now
based here but my goods are shipped in containers, which is very risky
sometime



Serge
problem is not unique. There are many other cases where shipments have been
lost, damaged or delayed because the current tracking systems provided for by
some couriers do not provide instant or real-time shipment status updates.



But Serge
and many other cross-border traders’ concerns are likely to be mitigated by the
establishment of AfterShip. 



AfterShip -
previously known as Awesome Ship - is a Hong Kong-based company that provides
an automated way for online merchants to track packages and send their
customers delivery status notifications.



The company
is owned by three young entrepreneurs, Teddy Chan, 30, Andrew Chan, 27 (no
relation with Teddy) and Dante Tsang, 21, who have put aside their other
businesses and studies to operate AfterShip.



AfterShip
was started with an initial investment of HK$300,000 and has six employees. It
uses web-based technology developed by Teddy Chan, co-owner and chief executive
officer, which allows shipments with various courier services to be tracked in
real time through one online platform.



AfterShip is
the first online business in the world that incorporates tracking services for
major global courier companies, offering real-time instant notifications.
AfterShip owners have replicated their business model to the rest of the world
following the global launch of their business in the United States in early
March 2012.



The elder
Chan, who had for the last eight years been running his own online retail
store, was inspired to develop the AfterShip application after experiencing
difficulties in tracking his customers’ shipments.



“While I was
running my other business, I found it cumbersome to track the delivery status
of orders because I had to rely on a tracking numbers to pull information from
a couriers’ website said Chan.



He developed
the Awesome Ship application to push out notifications to merchants and
customers at different points in the shipping cycle, including when the
delivery reached their door.



He said
since the app was launched, there has been a 15% increase in customers
returning to AfterShip - the increase is measured by the rise in user response
and feedback.



Chan said
ideas like these were more likely to emerge from Hong Kong which was home to
some of the biggest sellers on eBay, shipping a high volume and wide range of
products.



AfterShip
supports over 40 couriers worldwide. The company allows merchants to track up
to 500 packages each month for free.



Tracking of
500 to 1000 packages costs US$30 per piece and volume of over 1000 is charged
at US$80 per package.



Chan said
unlike the traditional methods used by courier companies, AfterShip allows
online merchants to link their shopping carts or marketplace seller accounts
with AfterShip, which currently supports Amazon, eBay, Magento, Shopify, and
Volusion shopping carts. Then, AfterShip automatically imports tracking numbers
of all existing or future packages.



It detects
tracking numbers of over major couriers worldwide including FedEx, DHL, TNT and
UPS.



“Online
merchants can see the status of all deliveries in one place. [You can] filter
by status to find out any delayed, damaged or undelivered packages and take
actions before customers ask,” said Andrew Chan, co-owner and interim head of
marketing.



The
advancement and involvement of social media in electronic commerce has come in
handy for AfterShip as more customers are able to sign up and use the service
to track their merchandise.



Chan added
that said merchants can use their own name and brand when sending notifications
through SMS, Email or Twitter to their own customers.



“[Our]
customers can customize notifications to make them more personal or insert any
marketing messages,” said the younger Chan., “Online merchants can take
advantage of the reporting tools to analyze their shipping performance over a
specific period of time.”



For Kossi
Serge, who is always moving from one place to the other in search of marketable
goods for resale in Africa, receiving notifications via SMS is enough assurance
that his goods are safely monitored in real-time. He’s a fan of AfterShip.



“As soon as
a heard of it, joined and I am now able to see the progress of my container
(shipment),” said Serge.

...
Product Id: 100130
Posted By: Sanday Chongo Kabange
Country: Togo
Category: Business
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