By Iminza Keboge
Published November 29, 2015
As e-commerce shopping becomes popular during the festive season, retailers across Africa are advised to pay special attention to their supply chains to ensure customer satisfaction and increased revenue.
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Saying that November and December drive 30% more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months, Oliver Facey, Vice-President of Operations for DHL Express in sub-Saharan Africa, says, â€œThis surge highlights the impact of holiday season spending habits and why retailers need to optimize their service levels should they want to capitalize on consumersâ€™ increased spending power over this period.â€
Africaâ€™s e-commerce industry may still be smaller compared to more mature markets, Facey says, but it continues to grow steadily each year in light of consumers having increased access to the internet via mobile technology and a fast-growing middle class.
Facey says supply chain management strategies are critical to effectively manage the increased demand in the build up to the traditional festive season shopping rush.
â€œMany platforms offer free or express shipping options, promotions and discounts,” he says. “All of these are geared to drive and maximize sales when consumer spending is at its peak. This is a crucial part for retailers, as overselling a product or service and then being unable to deliver has the potential to do far more harm than good.â€
Retailers need quick, smart, cost-effective methods to fulfil orders timeously and accurately across multiple sales channels to maximise profitability.
â€œCustomer service is an area that needs attention. Often, businesses hire temporary staff during this period, so it is vital that adequate training is provided to guarantee that a high level of service delivery is maintained, and that employees are geared to handle any additional enquiries driven by the sudden surge in customers.â€
Facey concludes: â€œUltimately, it is essential for retail operations to perform optimally during this busy period, as itâ€™s an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities to a larger audience. Short term it will maximise profits, but in the long term, deliver return customers.”