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The end of year festive season is almost upon us and for many businesses, especially those in the retail sector, this means the start of the peak activity period. In order to realize revenue targets, as well as offer a shopping experience that attracts a loyal following, it is imperative that retailers, both traditional and online, are properly geared for the expected upsurge in sales that is synonymous with the ‘silly season’.
This is according to Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa (www.dpDHL.com), who points to the findings in a 2016 study by McKinsey amp; Company, which indicates that shoppers in the African market are developing and demanding more creative, engaging and integrated shopping experiences from brands. Multi-channel access points and reliable digital platforms are increasing in importance as consumers continue to look for products that are value for money. Companies must give consumers solid reasons to choose their product or store over alternatives,rdquo; he says.
Shoppers based in Africa shop across a number of channels and respondents claimed to have shifted a considerable amount of their spending toward modern retailers and away from the small independent retailers.
During the festive season, a company’s top priority is to make sure that its platforms are effectively managed and prepared to deal with an increased influx of customers. This period is also a highly competitive time for retailers and Heymans comments that supply chain management strategies are critical.
Retailers need to ensure their supply chain is agile enough to handle the volume spike. To maximize profitability, retailers need quick, smart and cost-effective methods to fulfill orders timeously and accurately across multiple sales channels. Additionally, effective reverse logistics processes are also essential for managing returns to ensure a smooth, hassle-free customer experience. As e-tailers often extend or introduce free shipping offers over the festive season � it’s important for businesses to understand their shipping costs and processes to mitigate any potential shortfalls. Repeat deliveries stemming from incorrect products or address changes can result in additional shipping costs. Customers should also be reminded of potential duties, taxes and additional costs when importing from a site overseas. Ultimately, it’s all about managing expectations and satisfying the customers’ needs.rdquo;
Heymans adds that when problems do arise, it is important for businesses to be ready to resolve them effectively. Customers with queries or complaints should be able to access various escalation channels easily. Access to senior managers should be clearly defined so that customers do not have the added frustration of trying to track down someone who can’t assist them. At DHL Express, we introduced a best-in-class feature on our website which allows customers access to the whole Senior Management team, through our ‘Straight To The Top (STTT)’ initiative. All STTT queries are logged and reported at a country and regional level; these are effective in helping highlight broader issues and we use root-cause analysis to identify solutions,rdquo; Heymans says.
Customer experience is what makes or breaks a business. We’ve been in Africa for over 38 years, and our team of experienced employees, also known as Certified International Specialists, works hard to keep the customer at the center of everything we do. We have a saying at DHL in Africa, where we ‘take it personally’. The only way you can delight a customer is if you take the time to personally understand what they need, and do everything in your power to deliver it,rdquo; concludes Heymans.
Statistics: McKinsey amp; Company http://APO.af/b80kVG; http://APO.af/z4Oqut.
Source: Deutsche Post DHL
South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to leave for Cuba later Tuesday ahead of the the funeral of the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, on Sunday. He will be accompanied by a high-level government and African National Congress (ANC) party deleg…
The first ever Africa Trade Week opened in Addis Ababa today with the Economic Commission for Africa’s David Luke, urging participants to come up with solutions to unanswered questions about the Continental Free Trade Area.
Speaking on behalf of Abdalla Hamdok, ECA Acting Executive Secretary Mr. Luke said the CFTA is a bold initiative aiming to bring together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than U.S. $3.4 trillion.
African leaders, with the CFTA, aim to, create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade, among other things. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels on the continent.
He said, the questions include; how the continent can involve civil society and the African citizenry so that the CFTA has legitimacy among the people of Africa, what level of liberalization should the continent aim for at the beginning given adjustment costs, what safeguards are needed to protect the most vulnerable and those that may be driven out of business by the CFTA. For individual countries, which sectors should they liberalize, how does Africa get the details as rules of origin, technical barriers to trade sanitary and dispute settlement, among others.
Mr. Luke also urged participants to discuss how Africa can ensure the CFTA gets effectively implemented, adding the full range of key African trade policy issues should be looked at this week.
These include Africa’s trade relations with Asia, Europe, the United States and emerging markets; how trade can support gender equality and empowerment; perspectives from the regional economic communities and the CFTA negotiations and related flanking measures,rdquo; he stressed.
He noted that relations with Asia, Europe and the United States account for massive shares of our trade currently and it is important for us to get these right.
He said that the discussions would allow actors to examine our trading relationships with these partners and how to recalibrate them to ensure coherence with the CFTA initiative and its objectives as well as trade and gender issues and the importance of trade policy being gender sensitive.rdquo;
He said the CFTA presents Africa with a critical opportunity for development, adding research by the ECA has shown that the CFTA could add up to 2.5 percent to Africa’s annual economic output which is around $65 billion based on data for 2014, said Luke adding:Unlike much of the commodity-driven growth that we have recently experienced, the CFTA is likely to make growth in the African economy more sustainable and inclusive.
As such, the CFTA presents us with an opportunity that we simply have to seize. But how do we do so? There are many questions that remain to be answered on how exactly to pursue this most important initiative.rdquo;
Also speaking during the opening ceremony, African Union Commissioner Fatima Haram Acyl of Trade and Industry said Africa needs to bring the cost of doing business down, adding this would significantly boost trade performance with trade facilitation, which looks at procedures and controls governing the movement of goods across borders, enabling Africa to do that.
The Africa Trade Week is a historic event and the whole purpose of this week is to encourage fruitful and stimulating dialogue among all stakeholders,rdquo; said Ms. Acyl, adding the African Trade Facilitation Forum, that begins Thursday, will explore ways to overcome the obstacles to trade and imports across Africa such as non-tariff barriers including quotas, embargoes, sanctions and levies.
Mukhisa Kituyi Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) gave the keynote address. He said Africa should forget about the Abuja Declaration and focus on getting investors.
To me the Abuja Declaration was important. It was a starting point towards where we are but even if there had not been an Abuja and a Lagos Plan of Action, the reasons for creating a Pan African free trade are important even from today’s challenges so we have enough reasons from today apart from our inherited responsibility from Abuja,rdquo; said Mr. Kituyi.
These include Africa’s ability to expand trade, inclusive trade has the best possibilities, the most flexible opportunities are within Africa itself,rdquo; he said. Second, as the world goes towards much more refined global value chains our ability to create regional value chains, trade linkages is the first building block towards being competent in order to find a scaled-up possibility on the global value chains and third, Africa’s unemployed youth needs trade related opportunities and these opportunities have to be dealt with through best practices in Africa and cross boarder engagements � infrastructure that goes beyond countries , possibilities of e-trade for example that go beyond country boundaries and this is the ecosystem that can only be created under a Pan African free trade area.rdquo;
One of the issues that participants will discuss is the relationship between Africa and the United States following the recent election of business magnate Donald Trump as President-elect of the US, the changing architecture of global trade, AGOA implementation, trade partnerships, the CFTA, trade facilitation and related issues.
The ATW is bringing together a broad range of participants, including senior governmental officials, representatives from RECs, civil society, CEOs and executives from the private sector, development banks, academia, international development agencies and the media, among others.
Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).