Surviving the Festive Season: Nyama choma, Eno and Logistics in Kenya

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December 12, 2013

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Happy Jamuhuri (long weekend)! I count myself very lucky being a witness to these celebrations. As a country, we have made great stride. Should we follow the mantra of the Kenya@50 celebrations “Pamoja Twasonga Mbele” we will be reading a story of a great Kenyan history in 2063 as we celebrate Kenya@100! Happy holidays!

With the year careening towards its natural completion, we have ushered in December and the merry making that comes with it. Traditions for this period vary around the world: for some it means a visit from Santa, for others a celebration related to their deity of choice.

In Kenya, the general December outlook is bleak for our fine furry and feathered friends, set to give their lives for the good of family barbecues. Nyama choma is always in plentiful supply. With the final months of the year representing different things for different groups, the question must be asked: what does the festive season hold for the logistics industry?

The end of a year and beginning of a subsequent one are often the busiest for logistics companies worldwide, with an increase in retail transactions and therefore shipping, international cargo requiring delivery and outrageous deadlines to be met. This spike in activity holds a few key implications for the logistics, key of them regarding planning.

With a pattern of increased orders and costs associated, it is important for supply chain managers to master the art of a priority logistics function: forecasting. Stock must be maintained at levels that allow meeting customer demand, which comes with additional costs for storage and freighting, tying up precious resources. A precarious balance must thus be struck, requiring further skill in optimizing space to ensure efficient use of warehouse and freighting capacity. Where needs outweigh facilities, supply chain managers can also arrange to outsource some excess holiday traffic to offsite storage or carrier services.

The holidays usually herald an increase in human traffic: with revelers headed to exotic vacation spots or going home (ushago) to spend time with family, congestion comes with the territory. For individual travelers, this can be an unfortunate inconvenience but for a supply chain manager, it is a living nightmare of angry clients, missed deadlines and massive potential losses.

Road traffic, aside from wreaking havoc on the environment, causes spikes in fuel expenses for logistics firms, as well as creating delays in delivery that can seriously damage a company’s reputation and result in irate customers unlikely to trust the company for repeat business. Similarly, poor advance planning will often result in cargo delayed at the port for weeks at a time, with air travel schedules being likewise difficult to navigate during busy months.

Internally, supply chain managers must take measures to ensure that they can handle the influx of business. Staff may be required to work longer hours or casual staff may need to be added to absorb additional duties required. Other support systems must also be fortified to ensure continued functionality as the holiday season proceeds, such as ensuring online order, request, tracking or complaint portals do not crash under increased traffic.

Photo Credit: Apollo Pharmacy

Photo Credit: Apollo Pharmacy

Speaking as industry insiders, we offer you a tip that seems obvious but often goes unappreciated: plan ahead. Should you intend to send or order and receive packages over this period, it is always advisable to start as early as possible to ensure minimum inconvenience. Simply allowing a realistic delivery time line amounts to doing your part to reduce last minute orders and helps us better serve you: think of the logistics industry as your fellow soldier serving in the trenches known as festive season deliveries. Season’s greetings to you all. Remember your pack of Eno!


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