- What3Words, a UK company, offers a location reference system based on a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares.
- Each square has been pre-assigned a unique three-word address, which essentially means that communicating addresses are simple and error-free.
The biggest headache for online companies is locating the client and delivering an order within the scheduled time.
While delivering a package from point A to B might appear straight forward, reaching the doorstep of clients to deliver their orders on time, in a poorly addressed landscape can be quite frustrating.
The current address system in Kenya was also designed without taking into account the future needs of e-commerce, posing an uphill task for the online companies.
City Rydes, a company that runs customised errands for organisations and individuals, attests to such challenges in the midst of confusing and inefficient addressing in the local scene.
“Once at Milimani estate in Kisumu, we wasted half an hour trying to trace a ‘blue gate’ to deliver a cheque. After numerous phone calls, some of which went unanswered, we requested the client to step out of his gate so we could see him. It turned out the gate was actually black,” said David Otieno, the City Rydes proprietor.
When it comes to stating their addresses, people are known to make blunders that could include a badly spelled road name, wrong description of a building or a wrong letter in the post code.
The World Tourism Organisation notes that up to 80 per cent of addresses in developing countries and 20 per cent in developed countries are not authentic due to mistakes.
Concerned with the frequency at which clients were getting frustrated, City Rydes found a technological solution for the challenge.
One of their clients suggested to them to download a navigation app known as what3words by a company of the same name. The app, the client advised would help cut numerous phone calls and delays hence reaping more revenues thanks to happy customers.
What3Words is UK company that offers a location reference system based on a global grid of 57 trillion 3mx3m squares. Each square has been pre-assigned a unique three-word address, which essentially means that communicating addresses are simple and error-free.
The firm says first you need to find three unique words that describe your location through the app then share it with others. People can click on the link and it will show your precise location on the map.
According to the company, the service is available in 20 languages and is subscribed to by more than 650 businesses, governments and non-governmental organisations globally.
Upon downloading the what3wordsapp, customers can use GPS to find their current three-word location. Users should always put the app on the satellite mode to make sure it is in the right place and to enable the GPS to be accurate.
City Rides says using the application has greatly enriched the experiences for their customers.
A local address company OkHi notes that GPS by itself was not good enough to get someone reliably to a customer’s door particularly in urban, slum and rural areas.
“So we invented an OkHi address, which combines GPS, photo and phone number,” Timbo Drayson, founder of OkHi told the BBC in an interview.
Nairobi-based restaurant Artcaffé uses OkHi. The hotel says the app has significantly reduced the time it takes to deliver food.
Artcaffé riders are equipped with the mobile app and do not have to irritate customers with endless calls.
“The advent of Internet of Things has set the stage for digital mapping,” said Felix Orina a consultant at Orbital Africa, a Kenyan-based geospatial services provider.
“We have been receiving requests from individuals and companies asking us to help them come up with a unique description of their location,” he said.
Mr Orina said with the growing popularity of the e-commerce market, companies are moving to up their game to improve customer experience.
Reaching customers with ease will be one of the key selling points of the companies seeking a bite of the rapidly growing digital commerce.
About two weeks ago, Orion Online Mall entered the Kenya online shopping space that is dominated by brands such as Jumia, Kilimall, Pigiame.
Orion will have to brave competition from new sites by Safaricom and Sky.Garden as well as market leader Jumia, which boasts 5,000 vendors.
Orion is leveraging on an all-inclusive service provision which includes a service centre and a logistics and grocery outlet under Goldenscape Group Limited, which owns the online mall as well as Veedura Groceries Limited.
Efforts to digitise addresses have been ongoing for a while. Around two years ago, two Kenyans Abdulaziz Omar and Twahir Ahmed Mohammed partnered to offer Kenyans a product that would save them the hustle of physically going to the post office.
Dubbed M-Post, the service turns mobile phones into formal postal addresses. The duo worked with Posta.
“Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta) took us on board because our innovation offered convenience to its customers and in June 2016, we unveiled M-Post to the Kenyan market,” Mr Omar said.
At an annual fee of Sh300, Posta users receive free alerts on the availability of their letters which they can pick up at the post office or have them delivered to their door step.