Aug 31, 2012
Gas supplier launches online LPG locatorBack
Engineering|Africa|Afrox|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)
Other Energy News
Updated 3 hours ago The South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) says it is becoming increasingly urgent for government to address the current policy uncertainty surrounding the introduction of cleaner fuels and reports that it is pinning its hopes on a newly announced...
Updated 1 hour 52 minutes ago The Department of Energy (DoE) announced on Tuesday that the pre-procurement phase for South Africa’s proposed roll-out of a nuclear new build programme had been completed, following the latest in a series of workshops with vendor countries and their companies....
Updated 1 hour 59 minutes ago The Competition Commission has appointed Bukhosibakhe Majenge legal services divisional manager, effective April 1. The commission advised on Tuesday that Majenge would take over from Wendy Ndlovu, appointed manager in the office of the Commissioner. Majenge had...
Updated 2 hours 7 minutes ago Aim-listed energy provider Ncondezi Energy has been granted an extension for meeting certain conditions relating to the conditional commercial deal signed between it and Electricidade de Moçambique (EdM) for its 300 MW power plant. Ncondezi was establishing an...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 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.
This Week's Magazine
Projected capital expenditure (capex) in the South African automotive assembly industry should reach a record R7.48-billion this year, says the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) in its 2014 fourth quarter business review. Capex...
After several years of navigating project-threatening red tape and currency fluctuations, the 4.4 MW Bronkhorstspruit biogas power plant, which will supply clean energy to a leading automotive manufacturer in Gauteng, is expected to enter production before June....
South African paper and pulp producer Sappi reported earlier this month that it would build a pilot plant for the production of low-cost Cellulose NanoFibrils, or CNF (nanocellulose) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.
The long-term outlook for Nigeria is a country that has the potential to be very strong. So affirmed International Monetary Fund (IMF) Nigeria Mission Chief and Senior Resident Representative Dr Gene Leon on recently. "But we are starting from a point of huge...
Poor infrastructure planning and inadequate maintenance are becoming increasingly problematic for new developments and the associated infrastructure required to support such developments. In many urban and rural municipalities, the state of infrastructure has been...