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Finding delivery addresses problematic for Kenyan couriers

Updated: 2016-02-25 20:20
By Hou Liqiang in Nairobi, Kenya (chinadaily.com.cn)

E-commerce runners and couriers in Kenya are calling for the establishment of a physical address system as the lack of one has been making delivery riders get lost for up to an hour.

According to Jumia Kenya, a leading e-commerce runner, almost all courier and emergency response service companies rely on Google maps and phone calls to locate their destinations across Kenya, making deliveries unnecessarily expensive and sometimes even impossible.

"Kenya has never had a proper physical address system since independence and this is a major challenge to e-commerce," said the company.

Parinaz Firozi, managing director of the online shop, said: "You are forced to assign riders to deliver in their area of residence since they know the terrain, streets and buildings; delivery is a delicate balance between cost, time and efficiency. You have to get it right".

The challenge can be even bigger for those online shops that concentrate on food delivery. Duncan Muchangi, managing director of Hellofood Kenya, said when speed is of the essence as in the case of food so many things could go wrong.

"Food is sensitive, your customer wants it hot and on time, one hour is the delivery time we offer 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," he said.

The courier industry has probably been the biggest beneficiary of e-commerce in Kenya with a 30 percent upsurge in shipments in the last half of 2015, thanks to partnerships with e-commerce companies across board, according to Jumia Kenya. But still, they are challenged by the same problem.

"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 signs," said Geoffrey Mwove, chairman of courier industry association and the director of courier at G4S Kenya.

He said a combination of physical addressing and mobile apps that provide the geolocation of the house make a perfect recipe to solve the problem.

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