Aug 31, 2012
Gas supplier launches online LPG locatorBack
Afrox|South Africa|Liquefied Petroleum Gas|Local Retailer|Retail Outlet|Web-based Information Service|Brett Sauerman|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
Other Energy News
Updated 1 hour 5 minutes ago Western Europe remained the most popular geography for infrastructure investors, followed closely by North America and Australasia, while investor interest in markets such as India and China has dropped, a recent study by advisory firm Deloitte has found. Deloitte...
Updated 2 hours 4 minutes ago International freight volumes are expected to grow by 17% over the next five years, indicating a conservative recovery in global economic activity and world trade volumes, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Airline Industry Forecast 2013-2017 revealed...
Updated 2 hours 15 minutes ago JSE-listed Hudaco Industries on Thursday announced that it had acquired the assets and liabilities of imported battery distributor Specialised Battery Systems (SBS). The final total consideration payable by Hudaco would depend on the company’s average profits over...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 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 network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) has introduced a 4x2 derivative of its Pajero Sport sports-utility vehicle (SUV), which will give it access to a substantial slice of the full-size SUV market, where it will compete with the likes of the Ford Everest, Chevrolet...
South African Energy Minister Ben Martins has affirmed that the government wants the country to be globally competitive in the nuclear sector. "Our responsibility has always been ... to ensure that, in nuclear energy, South Africa can compete with the rest of the...
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann describes the new S-Class as “a special place to be”, with the car creating a sense of “wellness” once you are seated inside the German brand’s flagship model. It is difficult to argue...
Water scarcity and water-quality issues are broadly recognised and understood in most political, business and civil organisations in South Africa, but solving water issues will require wide and continuous action in catchments and municipalities by organisations and...
Work is well under way on the R212-million Imvutshane dam, 30 km north-west of Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key link in supplying people in rural Maphumulo with a reliable source of safe drinking water.