Woolworths employs an innovative business model to deliver orders placed on its shopping portal (www.woolworths.co.za. Woolworths uses a network of mini-entrepreneurs who own their vehicles and whose delivery schedules are coordinated by a black-owned and managed company called Niche Logistics. Craig Ludwig, Divisional Director of General Merchandise says, “A good shopping portal needs a highly reliable delivery service. It was clear that owning and managing a fleet of trucks for online deliveries was simply not a viable option for Woolworths. In partnership with Niche Logistics we were able to develop a world class delivery solution – one that is efficient, flexible and cost effective.” “The efficacy of this delivery model has exceeded our most optimistic expectations. Our customers can designate a delivery time down to a specific two hour slot on a particular day – very few online shopping portals in the world can offer this level of convenience,” continues Ludwig. Ludwig adds that this model also offered Woolworths an opportunity to help develop a new black-owned and managed enterprise, a commitment which forms part of Woolworths Good business journey – a long term plan to help communities, the country and the planet. Woolworths online delivery partner Niche Logistics manages a national fleet of 25 delivery vans and drivers that are allocated to specific Woolworths stores within designated areas. Deon Leminie, owner of Niche Logistics says, “Woolworths sends us the orders at midnight and we sms delivery instructions through to the drivers shortly thereafter. The model works so efficiently because it combines the best of technology with the human elements of personal service and individual responsibility.” “We have state of the art billing, volume and slot management IT systems which streamline the delivery process. But, it is the human element of the model which makes it work so well. Each driver is effectively their own boss, running their own business. This engenders a level of responsibility and commitment. As each driver is dedicated to a specific store, they develop a close relationship with both the store and their ‘regular’ customers to whom they deliver.” In 2004, Niche Logistics was created to take over Woolworths online delivery service from a company, which had been doing some of Woolworths online deliveries, but whose core business was medicine deliveries. “When it became clear that this company was folding, Woolworths helped me set up Niche Logistics as the sole distribution partner for its online deliveries,” says Leminie. Ends