The world is excited about the first Covid vaccines. How can we not be? After a year of this virus disrupting lives globally, it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We need something positive, but it’s important to manage expectations. (Read more) If there is one thing health organisations have to keep in mind when promising a solution, it’s that you are only as good as your distribution.
Without effective distribution, you’re sure to disappoint! The problem with distribution is that it is often out of your hands. You might have the most stringent of quality and production protocol in place and then you depend on someone else to get your treasured product to the consumer. If you can’t manage your own distribution, having the best distribution partners is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable assets for your business.
The ban on alcohol during South Africa’s initial lockdown this year, saw wine drinkers ordering wine online. Up till then, online wine sales in South Africa were lacking behind many other countries – distribution cost over our long distances being one reason. But running out of their favourite wine and realising the convenience and safety (from a health perspective) of online transactions, South Africans placed their wine orders on winery websites. When the delivery of online purchases was allowed again, distribution fears did, however, become reality for many. Orders that couldn’t have been dealt with in-house, were entrusted to courier companies and with abnormal volumes, many struggled to perform to expectation and many customers were left unhappy.
I believe a customer complaining about a negative experience gives you the opportunity to turn him/her into a supporter. It’s far worse if they just complain to someone else. I prefer they rather tell me. An urgent and positive response to their concern enable you to mend the relationship. But, of course, not giving them reason to complain is the first prize.
If the delivery of a wine order can get someone hot under the collar, can you imagine the urgency when waiting on a vaccine for a global virus?! We can do with the good news, but it is important to be responsible with people’s hopes and expectations. Even though miracles might be possible when it comes to manufacturing and even distribution, the supply chain for vaccines like this have unique challenges. The Guardian.com identified obstacles such as the extreme cold storage requirements of -70°C, establishing the trust of both health workers and the public and developing a vaccine infrastructure.
I just hope that these much needed vaccines stay safely away from the agendas of politicians, so that they can get to their destinations without unnecessary interference and actually make a difference where they are needed.