The US $1-billion entrant to the e-commerce space in the GCC, noon.com, is focusing on the last mile to stay ahead of the competition, especially in KSA, which is its largest consumer market.
The online retailer has already developed proprietary technology that allows it to collect and delivery shipments more easily, and will soon be hiring more Saudi Arabian nationals for its last mile operations.
“We have introduced a new geo-tagging address system in Saudi Arabia, because there is no universal system,” explains Kaushik Mukherjee, director of customer experience and marketplace operations, noon.com.
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“This is a challenge that every logistics company faces, but what we did was we developed a system in-house that would enable us to capture the correct geo-pin for each and every customer so that we could deliver to the exact right place. That has made our operations in Saudi Arabia much easier.”
In addition to deploying technology to enhance its last mile ability, noon.com is also eager for its operations to reflect the home-grown nature of the company. “We not just based in this region, we are of this region, and so we want to provide an e-commerce experience that meets the expectations of local customers,” says Mukherjee.
“We are looking to build something that doesn’t actually exist in this market right now. One of the problems we face in Saudi Arabia is that there are still some regions where delivery is difficult or where customers prefer to come and collect their shipment,” he adds. “We want to change that to be as close to the customer as possible and delivery to everyone very fast.”
Raman Kumar, director of operations excellence and fulfilment, noon.com, says that in the UAE and KSA, noon.com currently has around 85% coverage, and by the end of the year it wants to have closer to 100% coverage in both countries.
Part of the way it plans to do that is by approaching last mile logistics in a new way.
“We’re looking to change the way logistics is done in Saudi Arabia to create more employment opportunities for the youth,” explains Jha.
“So we’re looking to develop a cloud-sourced platform that will enable young Saudis to deliver for us on their own time and own terms, whether on the weekend, or on a few afternoons a week,” he says. “This will give us the capacity to handle any kind of growth and will also give us the ability to scale-up for rush periods such as Ramadan and create a source of income for our delivery agents – a bit like Careem and Uber.”