Intelligent mobile: the key to Kenyan FMCG logistics?
With its rapidly growing population, diverse private sector and central position in the East African economy, Kenya has the potential to be a regional success story, and become a major player in the African economy in the next few years. A sure sign of a flourishing economy is a rise in consumer purchasing power. “As markets and brands evolve, consumer preferences play a more prominent role,” said Jawad Jaffer, Superbrands Project Coordinator at Kantar TNS, which released its survey of Kenyan superbrands in early 2019.
The survey found that, in addition to mobile payments solutions, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands carved out a larger chunk of the market than ever before. Three FMCG brands, Pampers, Weetabix and Supa Loaf, made their way into the top ten this year.
However, the unique nature of Kenya’s logistics and supply chain infrastructure is reportedly creating problems that may see FMCG brands struggle to fully tap into the opportunities of the country’s economic growth. We take a look at some of the problems and potential solutions to FMCG logistics in the market.
The Kenyan FMCG market is unlike any other. “The secondary distribution network in particular is where many issues arise, as the space is dominated by an informal main market where visibility and line of sight are extremely limited,” explains Andrew Dawson, Commercial Director at MACmobile, the South African purpose-built and adaptable end-to-end cloud-based FMCG value chain solution and platform provider. He notes that, although the formal FMCG market “is mapped out, well understood and generally accessible by fleets and delivery trucks, with line of sight easily achieved,” the secondary redistribution model is ripe for disruption.
“This network is widely dispersed, with retailers spread from supermarkets in metropoles to small stores in rural areas. The distributor’s ‘fleet’ may consist of large trucks, pickups, regular vehicles, mopeds and wheelbarrow. There are in excess of 60 000 informal retail outlets, where the lack of formality makes tracking, managing and monitoring extremely difficult and creates a significant line of sight gap,” Dawson notes. “These outlets do not typically deal in presales either, so although the delivery route is generally known and repeated (efficient or not) the consignment of stock placed on a delivery vehicle and sold along the way is not guaranteed to all be sold by close of business. The result of this is that drivers may not always be able to sell their wares at the same locations on every journey, and returning with unsold stock contributes significantly to the cost of sales.”
The solution, Dawson believes, is to harness intelligent mobile technology to track stock distribution trends in order to gain better visibility into the secondary market supply chain. “The key to optimisation is data that can be analysed for intelligence. This in turn enables distributors to plot more efficient routes, identify patterns and trends, highlight risks and figure out how to mitigate them for maximum sales efficiency regardless of the market.”
Harnessing the power of mobile devices will be key for any company looking to achieve a degree of digitalisation in Kenya. Like the majority of African nations, personal electronics adoption leapfrogged the adoption of personal computers, meaning that Africa “isn’t a mobile-first continent - it’s mobile only”.
As such, mobile devices are being used across the Kenyan market in new and innovative ways to explore the opportunities created by an economy that’s capable of being permanently on the move.
Founded in 2015, MPost is a Kenyan startup revolutionising the way the country gets its mail. The company has developed a platform that allows users to turn their mobile phone number into an official virtual address, “which allows notifications to be sent to clients whenever they get mail through their postal addresses,” according to a Disrupt Africa report.
The opportunities for gathering mobile data for the purpose of business analytics may well be the key to unlocking the potential of the Kenyan economy. Phillipine Mtikitiki, General Manager of Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise, believes that supply chain and logistics departments are, if managed properly, a great source of revenue generation and workforce growth. “If more organisations looked at their supply chains from an innovation perspective, therein lie numerous opportunities yet to be tapped and platforms to create thousands of jobs.”
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.