Local courier, air and sea freight services company RTA Biz Shipping Limited has begun to execute phase one of its plan to expand into rural areas islandwide in an attempt to be the first to widely serve an emerging market that has been largely untapped in the shipping industry.
The company, which currently has more than 5,000 active customers and four locations across the island, while making use of warehouse facilities in the United States mainland, will utilise fresh cash flow and revenues gained from record sales in the current fiscal year, resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic, to relaunch its recently upgraded RTA mobile app. Funds will also be allocated to the roll-out of a new fleet of delivery vehicles that will handle shipping to rural areas and a new cash-awarding affiliate programme.
Speaking about the app that was first to market in 2017, managing director of RTA Biz Shipping Ryan Anderson said:
“We wanted to give customers an easier way to communicate with our platform. Technology is definitely the way the world is going, so we wanted to be the first persons in the industry to create a mobile app, which we did.”
The RTA app utilises mapping and other technology that enables clients to order and track packages turn by turn in real time, make payments and do estimated calculations, utilise user-unique QR codes to perform in-store services and, most recently, enable consumers to make online purchases from local retailers and supermarkets. He continued, “We wanted it to be as simple as possible, similar to an Amazon, where all touch points associated with the purchase and international shipping of an item can be done in one digital space via our app – on a desktop, via mobile or simply on our site.”
TIME TO CAPITALISE
Tashana Anderson, chief financial officer and a director of the four-year-old company, added that their client base has grown from nearly 5,000 active users, at the beginning of March, to just over 7,900 active users to date, and that the company has had an 85 per cent increase in profits since the pandemic.
The distancing of the population, in adherence with the social-distancing guidelines that were issued to the public as a containment measure when the first imported coronavirus case presented in March last year, has resulted in the majority of shoppers avoiding most public establishments.
“The growth in our customer base since the pandemic is indicative that it’s now time to capitalise in this emerging, yet untapped, area of opportunity. The local e-commerce space is now booming, too, yet rural areas of Jamaica remain underserved,” Anderson said.
In addition to utilising heavy marketing to increase the business customer base as a key part of the rural expansion, the company will also use its new fleet of vehicles to make direct home deliveries and host pop-up locations that offer scheduled pickups this year. The company will also seek to commence a five-year-long build-out of a series of strategic brick-and-mortar locations that will serve new and untouched markets.
Notably, too, its recently launched affiliate commissions programme, offering customers an opportunity to earn $500 for every new referral, has already gained 200 new sign-ups in just a week, without having made any announcement or marketing push.
“The initiation of the affiliate commissions programme is to give back to existing customers who would like to generate an additional income working on their own time while enabling the company to reach new customers.
“Persons in the underserved communities will love what we’re bringing to the table. The demand is there, as they’ve voiced that they want to shop online with ease. Right now, less than 50 per cent of the country is being served with these types of shipping services, and there are also a large number of persons from these rural communities who aren’t yet fully exposed to shipping. So, I believe that once they are, there will be a new demand, and it will be a different ball game,” Ryan said.