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“Hello!! Is this Pizza Inn? My name is John Doe I would like to order two medium margherita pizzas. Yeah, I’d like it delivered to my place. I live in Satellite, near the Korogocho Police Station. When you’re at the station, take a left, then go 300m take a right go 500m take another left, just continue going until you pass the big Mugumo tree. Then take another left then ask the vendor at that corner to direct you to Shalom Court, where I live. At the gate ask the guard to direct you to house number 88. That is where I live.” That is Mr. Doe ordering take out from Pizza Inn.

Half an hour or so later…

Hi John, my name is Jane Doe. You ordered pizza from Pizza Inn and I am the delivery guy. Well, I am at the Korogocho Police Station, and I am totally lost. Again where exactly did you say you live?” That is Ms. Doe, the delivery guy for Pizza Inn.

Long story short, in Kenya there is no physical address system; much to the displeasure of door-step delivery guys and emergency response services. They often end up cycling around the area around the residence they are supposed to go for hours before they find the right place.

Had Kenya put in place physical address system, the caller would simply state their physical address and the delivery guy or emergency response team would know exactly where they are headed. As it is, the caller and the delivery guy must remain within easy reach of their mobile phones (the situation would be worse without mobile phone technology), to constantly coordinate the direction.

This scenario leads to not just time wastage, it could also be critical especially if it is an emergency situation. The best delivery guys and emergency response team have to rely on Google Maps and phone calls to locate the destination the caller located.

You are forced to assign riders to deliver in their area of residence since they know the terrain, streets and the buildings, delivery is a balance between cost, time and efficiency. You have to get it right,” says Parinza Firozi the MD at Jumia Kenya.

Street signs and road naming are helpful social amenities, and it is about time Kenya puts up the physical address system. They could help courier businesses perform their duties faster, cheaply and conveniently. Not to mention emergency services like police, ambulance or fire response team could save more lives.

In the case of Hellofood Kenya, an online food delivery service, this lack of physical address system makes their work less efficient and slow.

Food is sensitive, your customer wants it hot and on time, Hellofood delivers in 1 hour but if our rider gets lost for 30 minutes, chances are the customer could look for another alternative while you bear the cost. It’s necessary to fix this problem.”

Probably the biggest beneficiary of e-commerce in Kenya, the courier industry confirmed a 30% upsurge of shipments in the last half of 2015 thanks to partnerships with e-commerce companies across board. The latest this year, OLX and G4S signed a partnership that will allow OLX sellers to send packages to buyers through G4S. While business is good, the two entities face a similar challenge; lack of a physical address system.

According to Geoffrey Mwove, Chairman Courier industry association and the Director of courier at G4S Kenya, “The government should roll out a national and regional physical addressing system, Streets, roads and blocks need to be named and marked permanently. Property developers and gated estates should also erect direction signs, google maps may help but are not precise.”

Mwove further reiterated that a combination of the physical addressing, mobile applications such as OkHi that provide the geolocation of the house and a photo of the door or building thus enabling the information to be shared on WhatsApp or SMS through a URL link make a perfect recipe to solve the address problem and grow the market rapidly.

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