Supply Chain infrastructure for E-commerce Businesses in Africa

It’s no surprise that e-commerce businesses are taking off in Africa, but this explosion has raised the need for a robust supply chain infrastructure to keep them going.

It is one of the fastest growing industries on the continent. And it is expected that by 2025, half a billion people in Africa will be e-commerce users. However, the growth will be derailed if these businesses cannot find ways to ensure their customers get the perfect experience.

Customers are increasingly demanding, and you cannot blame them. There have been so many innovations that things we thought were impossible are common occurrences. Who cares about “same day delivery” when businesses do the ultimate with  “same hour delivery”?

So, How can African e-commerce businesses strengthen their Supply chain infrastructure? There are a few strategies to consider when building or strengthening supply infrastructure for e-commerce businesses.


1. Logistics or Transportation Vehicles

Logistics is the medium by which businesses transfer their products to consumers. E-commerce businesses have to bolster this aspect of their supply chain infrastructure to satisfy their customers.

As e-commerce businesses in Africa continue to grow, this will play a key role in their success. However, logistics and transportation of goods and services in Africa face many challenges due to poor infrastructure and security.

Therefore, when setting up the logistics department, it is vital to consider the type of vehicles, maintenance and repairs, distance to the furthest customers, and the possibility of collaborating with the right suppliers.

Logistics providers across Africa specialise in road, rail, maritime, and air transportation modes. Leveraging any of them could prove more effective than spending the capital to do the same. The supply chain may not be able to pull it off.


2. Order Processing

Order processing is the system that receives the order and activates fulfilment protocols. It is probably the busiest aspect of the supply infrastructure.

When setting up the order processing system, e-commerce businesses in Africa must integrate certain tools and solutions if they hope to have any significant success. Some of these include robots, order processing software, and warehouse management systems.

An efficient order processing system in the supply chain infrastructure will promote lead times, error-free fulfilment, and a cost-effective process. In any customer-centric business, order processing automatically becomes the engine of your supply infrastructure.

Without it, your supply chain will struggle to effectively serve the customers.


3. Get The Right Inventory Management Strategies

E-commerce businesses in Africa must find the perfect inventory management strategy to help them better serve their customers. Like the marketplace, inventory management in e-commerce depends on the industry and nature of the product.

To a large degree, it also depends on the customer’s expectations. No matter how much the industry wants to uphold it, the inventory management strategy must follow suit once customer demand changes.

The food industry typically practices a mix of pull and Just-in-time inventory strategy. Other e-commerce businesses might need to pull orders and take their time in the fulfilment. Another business might work better with the push strategy. An example of this is the fashion business.

When e-commerce businesses get their inventory management strategy right, it helps with order processing and fulfilment. It also goes a long way to give these businesses the edge over most of their communities.


4. Investing in Communication Tools and Platforms

Communication tools and platforms are vital for e-commerce businesses who hope to be around long. These tools help the flow and exchange of information between businesses and their customers.

Today, customers do not just want faster, error-free deliveries. They also want to be able to track their order every step of the way until delivery is made. These platforms are perfect for keeping the customers at bay as well. 

This e-commerce supply chain infrastructure goes a long way to assure them everything is being done to ensure their goods or products are delivered on time. This way, the business doesn’t have to spend so much resources putting out fires from customers who are disgruntled about “perceived” late deliveries.