If you ask anyone running an e-commerce business, whether they are a small-scale retailer on Jumia or a scale up the size of Moko, delivery logistics can be quite a nightmare.
Trust us, we know. We’ve been there. But now, we’re able to offer all our customers free mattress delivery anywhere in Kenya. How did we achieve that?
We caught up with Yvonne Muita, our Senior Manager - Retail, Sales & Ops, to understand what goes on in the background. Check it out and, hopefully, you’ll catch a tip or two that you can use to grow your business.
What led to the birth of this idea? Did it come to you in a dream (get it? coz you’re a company of dreamers? lol)
Ha ha very funny! (insert eye roll)
You see, Moko is about giving customers solutions to a problem they are facing. When we did our initial market research we realized there were two main pain points in our industry — good quality products were too costly and home delivery was too expensive.
The first thing we set out to do was to solve the problem of expensive furniture and sub-standard home and living products. Already, we’ve made great progress there.
It went without saying that our next major focus should be on providing affordable delivery options as well.
How did you manage to set up the solution? What factors did you consider?
We started in Nairobi and first explored the option of using our own trucks for delivery. However, managing these logistics in-house soon became a headache because maintaining trucks is quite costly.
Our next best option was to outsource delivery and that has been working incredibly well. We’ve partnered with Sendy and Amitruck to offer our customers prompt and affordable delivery within Nairobi.
They provide us with drivers and trucks as well as robust systems to help us track deliveries. That way, we’re able to give our customers a 3-hour window when they’ll be receiving their product.
Needless to say, when we began expanding outside Nairobi, we also outsourced delivery. It was very expensive in the beginning because we were using a third party to sell as well as deliver. Fortunately, we’ve now managed to find the right partners and streamline things.
What criteria did you use to select who to partner with?
First, we were keen to look for people with wide networks across Kenya. Doorstep delivery is tricky upcountry because most people live far from the main road. In addition to the hassle involved in just getting directions, we can’t send a courier service too far upcountry since they also have other customers to serve.
Next, we also looked at who was giving the best service at the price we’re able to consider. We especially stressed on how fast they are able to deliver. On a good day, our current partners can deliver the next day when someone places an order or a maximum of 3 days for outside Nairobi deliveries. It’s great news for both us and our customers. No one likes to wait “7 business days” to receive their order.
And who are the partners that met these standards?
In Nairobi, we’ve partnered with Sendy and Amitruck. They are young innovative companies that are tech-logistics providers and are into giving their customers the best solutions.
For both of them, you are not tied down to a lease or a loan to access the trucks. If this truck doesn’t work today, we can replace it tomorrow.
Outside Nairobi, we’ve partnered with G4S. They have a wide network in Kenya so they are able to access locations that even matatu routes don’t get to. Since they have good mature systems, they are also able to give us a good price for mattress and furniture delivery, which is impressive since these are bulky items.
That allows us to offer free mattress delivery to our customers across the country without hurting our business.
How are the customers responding to this Free Delivery offer?
Our upcountry customers love it. They are happy that they can have the mattress delivered so close to their house. Compared to 2019 when we first began serving customers outside Nairobi, we’ve seen a 300% increase in monthly sales upcountry and improved delivery systems have had a huge role to play in that.
In fact, the uptake has been so great that we’ve been able to re-negotiate terms with our courier partner and offer free doorstep delivery for anyone living within 5KM of a G4S office in Nakuru, Mombasa and Nyeri.
What lessons have you picked up along the way when setting up this delivery system?
1. Have your man on the ground if you can.
If customer service is a core part of your business and you really care about your customers, you will want to take more control of the process by having your trained staff on the ground.
Since they understand your company and its values, they’ll be able to offer the same service as a customer would find when they interact with you on other touchpoints such as on a call or social media. It also makes it much easier to collect feedback, whether positive or constructive.
Lastly, it’s difficult to use outsourced delivery guys as a point of sale. Frankly, selling is not in their JD so they’ll rarely ever help with that. An in-house delivery assistant would be easier to train about your products and how to close sales while on the road.
2. Customers want regular updates that help them to track their orders.
Initially, it was hard for the customer to track their order because even we didn’t have enough data to offer clear timelines. Now, we’re able to tell you that your sofa will arrive tomorrow between 1 pm and 4 pm because we’re confident that we’ll keep our word.
3. Don’t outsource everything. Retain some steps of the purchase process in-house.
One, it helps you to build a relationship with your customer and you can always reach out for feedback or even to alert them about new products. Customers can also easily refer their friends and family if they love your stuff.
Two, if customers develop any issue with the product they bought, they can easily contact you about it. If you outsource the order placement part, it adds a barrier, which makes it harder to address customers’ issues.
Finally, a third-party seller will rarely ever take time to master your company’s tone of voice.
4. It’s easier to negotiate when you have good volumes.
When you start out, you might not have much bargaining power when negotiating delivery rates. Over time, as the uptake for your product increases, you can go back to your courier partner and renegotiate the terms in your contract.
There you have it, folks! We hope these insights into what happens behind the scenes can help you to improve your delivery systems and grow your business. Happy delivering!