By Chooye Hamusankwa
The COVID-19 pandemic has had one of the most telling impacts on global trade in recent memory.
The unprecedented disruption to global trade caused by the pandemic has forced businesses to create inventive ways to stay in touch with their clients without flouting health guidelines set by the Health Authorities.
Corporate marketing departments are at the forefront of driving forward this new thinking, as they search for increasingly innovative ways to stay ahead of meeting customer demands, positioning themselves against the competition, and adding value by reducing the costs of purchase.
This thinking was on everyone’s minds recently when the country’s top marketing talent met in Livingstone for the Zambia Institute of Marketing (ZIM) 24th annual awards ceremony, where Lafarge Zambia was recognised for its innovation.
Cement may not always be considered the most innovative or glamorous industry, so it was particularly significant that the company was recognised for innovation.
Here is why:
One industry that seems to have mostly defied COVID’s disruptive tendencies is the infrastructure sector. Over the last year, Zambia has seen a marked rise in residential construction activity even as large-scale projects slowed – resulting in increased cement demand.
To meet this demand, Lafarge Zambia launched the ‘Last-Mile Delivery Solution’ in partnership with Afridelivery and Tigmoo.
The online system allows clients to buy cement, and have it delivered to their location within 90-120 minutes, negating the need for them to queue up at cement outlets, which may expose them to the deadly virus.
The take-up has been phenomenal: each month, the system has seen growth with the number of bags handled through the system exceeding 10,000.
The app was created to efficiently meet clients’ precise requirements without compromising their safety amid the pandemic. We wanted to create a fully automated online shop tailored to meet customer’s requirements even in these trying times.
Last-Mile Delivery seeks to satisfy the growing demand for cement at household and commercial levels efficiently, and build and maintain strong relationships with stakeholders. Homeowners and contractors can order cement on their mobile devices and have it delivered directly to their premises within two hours.
It allows us, on the one hand, to add value to our clients’ shopping experience and on the other, help make it easier for our customers to observe social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
After only a short time the success has been promising, and we will continue to focus on key strategic operational marketing initiatives to drive greater competitiveness and improve efficiency in service delivery.
The move to a digital payment system has helped to keep our Zambian operations afloat following heavy losses in 2019.
The Last-Mile Delivery solution has so far been successfully rolled out in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, Livingstone, and Chingola.
The result has demonstrated that marketing departments can play a key part in the success of businesses, especially if they think outside the box and drive home real innovation in a way that makes sense to customers.