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Rush gets Amrod delivered

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Rush has announces a new partnership with Amrod. The partnership, Amrod Direct, means that Amrod’s customers can now obtain quick access to a range of couriers, who will deliver their orders the moment they are ready for collection.

Says Amit Brill, co-founder of Amrod: “At Amrod we take pride in being at the forefront of innovation and enabling technologies. Partnering with Rush is part of our strategic and competitive approach to our business, as well as to our ongoing commitment to provide world-class services to our customers.”

As a courier aggregator, Rush provides an integrated platform for users to choose from a range of trusted courier partners. The platform enables customers to obtain quotes and compare couriers and their pricing, before making their choice based on reputation, price or delivery time.

Glenn Whittaker, founder and CEO of Rush South Africa, says that, once an Amrod customer’s order is ready for collection from its warehouse, the company informs customers via e-mail and provides them with a link to the Rush website (www.rush.co.za). Clicking on the link allows them to obtain the courier service of their choice and, once they have paid, Rush collects the parcel and delivers it to them immediately.

“We have spent the last 12 months integrating our systems with Amrod’s, tying back into their stock, warehousing and billing systems,” he says. “This means that we now know the volume matrix of every product in their warehouse and can factor this into our algorithms and determine the cost of a specific customer’s parcel instantly.”

This process eliminates the time-consuming process of the customers having to first contact Amrod to obtain a weight and size determination for their package, before wasting even more time tracking down various courier companies and obtaining quotes from them.

“Instead, Amrod customers now get the best of both worlds – they get immediate access to a number of couriers and can choose their service based on a range of factors, while also gaining the benefit of the large-scale cost efficiencies Rush offers. Furthermore, they also avoid the headaches associated with collecting the parcel themselves.”

The company’s current couriers are The Courier Guy, Skynet, Courier IT, Globeflight and Road Trip Courier, with more to come, says Whittaker. He adds that users of the Rush service now also have the ability to rate the courier they use, based on a five-star system. This means that they can also choose a service based on how well it is rated by other customers.

“Once their order is placed, customers receive a tracking number and are able to track the progress of their parcel via an online dashboard; right up until it reaches their door. Furthermore, the complete delivery process is monitored by Rush’s call centre (087 820 1748) and Rush also provides a parcel insurance option, underwritten by Hollard.

“I think the fact that an organisation as large as Amrod has chosen to partner with Rush demonstrates how effective our courier aggregator solution is. At the same time, their customers will appreciate the fact that they have more choice and that the entire courier process is now simpler, cheaper and faster for them. And of course, the more parcels we send every month, the greater the economies of scale we are able to leverage, and the more cost savings we are able to pass on to the consumer. This, ultimately, is what the Rush proposition has always been about: putting the power back into the hands of the customer.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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