Staying true to its reputation for speed, passion, teamwork and a can-do attitude, DHL Express has grown its retail footprint in sub-Saharan Africa by an astonishing 1,000% in less than three years.
In what could become a business school case study, the company’s number of service points increased from 300 to over 3,300, not by building its own bricks and mortar branches but by partnering with local business owners who act as DHL resellers. Thousands of vendors now allow their customers to send DHL shipments alongside their normal offerings.
These small businesses benefit from commission on all DHL sales, an increase in foot traffic as well as being associated with a global brand.
“It’s really a win-win approach. We having given these small shop owners a unique business opportunity to grow their revenues and gain credibility by aligning themselves with an international brand. If they do well, we do well,” explains Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa.
The company is willing to partner with any entrepreneurial business that sees value in becoming a DHL reseller. All partners are provided with a complete branding kit and go through an extensive training programme to ensure compliance with DHL’s requirements and procedures.
DHL has also forged similar partnerships with larger companies such as mobile network operators, retail business centres, supermarkets and fuel retailers.
DHL has simplified its pricing and packaging options to fit in with the needs of its customers as opposed to the other way around. To make people aware of its retail offering, the streets of Africa are often painted yellow and red through tactical advertising campaigns involving dancing, singing and special DHL giveaways.
“Through the passion and energy of our 4,000 employees across Sub Saharan Africa, we have changed the perception that DHL only caters for multinationals and big business. Our retail customers no longer have to sit in traffic to send a document or parcel, but can literally find a DHL service point right around the corner,” says Rahavendra.
“In a continent like Africa where the informal economy rules, a company’s retail strategy cannot revolve around high-end shopping malls,” adds Rahavendra. “You have to operate on a level where customers can understand, feel and relate to your product. You really need to ensure that your brand connects to the average person on the street,” concludes Rahavendra.