Aug 31, 2012
Gas supplier launches online LPG locatorBack
Engineering|Africa|Afrox|Gas|Petroleum|System|Africa|South Africa|Liquefied Petroleum Gas|Local Retailer|Product|Retail Outlet|Service|Services|Web-based Information Service|Brett Sauerman|Infrastructure|Johan Schoeman
© Reuse this
Last year’s significant liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) supply shortage did little to increase customer satisfaction with LPG marketers and producers such as Afrox. “It was more frustrating than anything else for customers to arrive at their local retailer, only to discover there was no gas available at that specific store,” says Afrox customer self-service manager Brett Sauerman.
In response to customer frustration, Afrox designed and developed an interface for the availability checker. After running the system internally for two months to confirm its efficacy, Afrox officially activated the service in May.
The Handigas availability checker was designed in-house by the Afrox information services team, by using a combination of existing infrastructure, services and skills in delivering a useful service to its customers.
The locator provides confirmation of stock availability at any Afrox retail outlet. When a user selects his or her province, city and preferred cylinder size, the service provides information about the nearest outlet and stock availability, as well as the phone number and physical location of the store.
“In cases where a particular outlet may be difficult to locate, the service assists in providing directions and a map,” says Sauerman. He adds, however, that the service is strictly information-based and does not contain an ordering service.
The availability checker provides information on the full range of Afrox Handigas cylinders, including the 9 kg, 14 kg and 48 kg cylinders.
Sauerman adds that the service also enables customers to contact Afrox and communicate their supply issues. “While the service does not allow customers to buy or reserve stock online, it does facilitate the process of finding Handigas stock in South Africa,” he says.
The Afrox team’s greatest challenge in developing the locator was deciding which platform would be best to launch the service on, says Sauerman. The team debated using the Internet, taking into consideration that they will not able to reach customers who do not have Internet access.
Ultimately, Afrox decided to proceed with this platform. This was encouraged by the perceived steady growth in Inter-net accessibility and because the company will, at the very least, limit any inconvenience to customers who do have access to the Web.
While the availability checker is still relatively new to the market, website statistics reveal a spike in the number of Web users that visited the interface between June 22 and June 29. Statistics have also indicated that 90% of these Web users were new visitors.
Sales numbers correlated with the increase in site visits and Sauerman confirmed that sales increased during the cold spells in June.
He believes the newly implemented service improved Afrox’s standard of customer communication and adds that the overall sales improvement can also be attributed to the addi- tional measures taken in increasing the availability of stock.
“This year, we have bolstered local supply with imports to ensure the availability of Afrox gas during winter. “Also, we were able to provide enough cylinders this year,” he says.
Business process manager Johan Schoeman says Afrox will continue to move with the natural progression of technology, adding that the technical team will investigate the possibility of turning the Handigas availability checker into an application for smartphones and tablets.
Sauerman concurs, adding that the positive response from Afrox customers is a clear indication that there is a need to expand on this platform. He assures Engineering News that the technical team will respond accordingly.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
Other Energy News
Updated 6 hours ago Energy company Chevron South Africa has appointed Shashi Rabbipal as its new executive chairperson. He would lead the company’s corporate governance team, steer the company’s continued progress on transformation and focus on establishing and maintaining relationships...
Updated 1 hour 15 minutes ago South African Airways (SAA) has enhanced its partnership with the airline’s in-flight duty-free concessionaire Tourvest Inflight Retail Services (TIRS), enabling Voyager members to earn miles when buying duty-free products and spend their miles when shopping for...
Updated 1 hour 24 minutes ago South Africa's new visa regulations are having an adverse impact on the country's tourism industry without proof that they are making any impact on child trafficking, according to Hussein Dabbas, International Air Traffic Association (Iata) regional vice-president...
Updated 1 hour 27 minutes ago The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a semi-autonomous solution for early pothole detection to potentially replace the often time-consuming expensive manual road inspection. Showcasing the Visual Surveying Platform (VSP), CSIR...
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
This Week's Magazine
At the sixth IQ Business conference held in Sandton last month, a panel of business leaders and academics advocated that business reclaims the initiative to spur growth in South Africa amid fragmented and haphazard political direction. Management consulting firm IQ...
The building industry is an essential component of the South African economy as it contributes about 15% to the gross fixed investment that drives the economy. However, with the country’s economy going through a tough time currently, this, in turn, reflects on the...
The recipients of the 2015 South African National Energy Association (Sanea)/South African National Energy Development Institute Energy (Sanedi) Awards were announced at a ceremony and banquet in Sandton last month. Sanea chairperson Brian Statham named Exxaro CEO...
As South African information technology (IT) firm EOH posted another full year of strong growth, CEO Asher Bohbot, known for his frank words, people-centric management style and stoic humanism, attributed the company’s continued South African and African growth to...
International heavy-equipment engine manufacturer Cummins’ regional distribution centre (RDC) in Woodmead, Gauteng, has halved the average logistics distribution time for clients in Southern Africa and allowed for critical or long-lead stock to be kept closer to...