How to Reduce Order Fulfilment Delays in Africa

Order fulfilment delays in Africa are common mostly because of uncontrollable factors, but sometimes businesses tend to get complacent.

Either way, the customers are not waiting around, hoping your excuse is understandable.

Data shows that 50% of customers will abandon a business at least temporarily if order delivery expectations are unmet.

That’s a lot of impact and a lot of leaving customers.

In this article, we look at seven strategies or tips to reduce order fulfilment delays for African supply chains.

1.  Embrace Automation

Automation is one of the fastest ways to reduce order fulfilment delays across any supply chain.

According to this report by McKinsey, it can reduce lead times by up to 50%.

A real-life example of this was when Amazon initially integrated the Kiva robotics into their order fulfilment process, and it reduced errors and delays in some cases by as much as 75%.

Humans are necessary for any supply chain or fulfilment process but are prone to mistakes.

Robots or automation, on the other hand, work under a strict set of rules or algorithms, which eliminates mistakes and speeds up the process.

In Africa, the capital required may be a huge deterrent to implementing this type of technology, especially because businesses often fail to realise the potential.

African supply chains are catching up to the rest of the world, which means the traditional method we are accustomed to will soon become obsolete.

2. Promote Collaboration

We all preach collaboration in the supply chain, but for collaboration to work, there has to be free-flowing information.

Order fulfilment is usually a collaboration between distribution centres and the logistics arm of the supply chain.

However, many times, there is a lack of communication between them.

Whether both processes are done internally, externally, or a mix of both, sharing information goes a long way to reduce order fulfilment delays.

An example is a food ordering App showcasing unavailable food menus to customers. When the customers order and find out what they ordered is unavailable, it breeds doubt.

Customers today are obsessed with hyper-visibility, which can only be made available when there is effective collaboration across all necessary stakeholders.

3. Product Marking and Labeling

Errors breed delays, and it is quite common for African supply chains.

In fact, this article shows that 5% of late deliveries result from errors. This can impact your customer satisfaction depending on the volume of deliveries.

Product marking and labelling is an effective method of eliminating order fulfilment errors. The great thing about it is that it works for both robots and humans.

When labelling, it is important to avoid mixing up the products and their labels, or you end up making the same mistakes you were avoiding.

A great way to do this is to create unique labels and identifiers for each product or SKU. For robots, like your scanners at the checkout, unique bar codes are required.

That way, your employees know how to match each label to the appropriate item.

4. Staff Training

No matter how optimized your order fulfilment process is, your staff’s lack of training will impact its efficiency.

Training empowers your staff with the necessary knowledge they need for the order fulfilment process, which helps them reduce errors and avoid delays.

Training will also equip them with the necessary decision-making skills to optimize the entire process. More on this in the next point.

For more on this, check out our article on people management in the supply chain.

5. Streamline the Process

Although processes are essential to get the most out of your order fulfilment campaign, it can get unnecessarily complicated in Africa.

Cumbersome processes cause delays, and the business pays for it in lost revenues.

To curb this, use the RIE model. Review the entire order fulfilment process, identify and eliminate unnecessary actions that might cause delays in the process.

To streamline effectively, you will have to decentralize the decision-making process, which empowers every stakeholder along the process to make low to mid-level decisions.

6. Tracking and Route Optimization

Africa is riddled with poor infrastructure, and a huge chunk of that impacts the transportation industry.

From bad roads to security issues and other limitations, poor infrastructures severely impact order fulfilment, leading to delays.

Although it is not the business’s fault, it doesn’t mean it can be controlled. With the technology available to us, we can track and optimize routes for efficiency.

Tracking entails monitoring the product movement across the supply chain and filtering that information to the customer.

Route optimization, on the other hand, uses GPS technology to identify possible issues on the road, then check for alternatives and alert the drivers.

The route optimization technology in Africa is not without faults. For instance, wrong directions and neglecting road closures.

These are probably due to the government’s inability to update such information real-time.

Despite all that, the technology has helped many businesses and garnered a lot of support from supply chain and logistics professionals on the continent.

Causes of Order Fulfilment Delays in Africa

1. Poor Infrastructure

Inadequate transportation infrastructure is one of Africa’s biggest causes of order fulfilment delays.

Poorly maintained roads, small railway networks, and underdeveloped ports are problems in many African nations.

These flaws make it challenging for goods to move across the continent quickly and effectively.


2. Cumbersome processes and regulations

Conflicting regulations and administrative bottlenecks frequently cause delays in clearing products at border crossings and ports.

These administrative obstacles can be especially aggravating for companies striving to satisfy client needs quickly.


3. Poor communication

Timely order fulfilment depends on effective communication, but Africa’s large terrain and diverse degrees of technology infrastructure can make this difficult.

Poor communication can result in misunderstandings, mistakes, and delays in the end.

FAQs on Order Fulfilment Delays in Africa

Q1: Are there government initiatives to reduce order fulfilment delays?

A few African nations are making improvements to their logistics and infrastructure systems. Keep current with government programs and business alliances that could help your supply chain.


Q2: How can tech solutions like supply chain management software help with order fulfilment delays?

Technology can give you real-time supply chain visibility, enabling you to spot bottlenecks and prevent delays before they happen. Supply chain software can improve communication and streamline processes.


Q3: How can businesses reduce order fulfilment delays with risk managment?

Creating a solid risk management strategy enables you to foresee unexpected delays and create backup measures to lessen their effects.

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