Logistics: Qatar has greater demand for strong and reliable connectivity
Qatar’s logistics industry has been experiencing positive growth in the past few years as it expands along with to the strong development of various industry verticals. As logistics is the backbone of operations, Nael Attiyat, country manager, DHL Express Qatar, in an exclusive interview with The Edge, says companies have come to appreciate the wide range of benefits and strong competitive advantage that an efficient logistics system can provide.
“We are looking to address the needs of an expanding e-commerce sector. This is especially crucial as Qatar is now considered as the seventh largest business-to-consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa region,” says Nael Attiyat, country manager, DHL Express Qatar.
What is your assessment about the overall performance of Qatar’s logistics sector and the factors driving its growth?
As Qatar continues to reinforce its position as an economic powerhouse, all key sectors have flourished driven by increased investment from foreign enterprises that are drawn to the country for its strategic location as well as infrastructure campaigns within the state following the introduction of initiatives to address Qatar National Vision 2030. DHL performed well in 2015 and this was further cultivated by our development campaigns to enhance and improve our services by establishing a new service point that will allow us to address the unique needs of our diverse clientele in an even more effective and convenient manner. We are optimistic that 2016 will continue to offer a host of new opportunities for DHL and our partners, and we remain committed to offering superior logistics solutions to our customers and the people of Qatar.
For companies doing business in Qatar, logistics is still an issue as the sector faces a number of challenges such as limited capacity and lack of proper address and street marking system. How do you address these issues?
Qatar features a vibrant and dynamic business sector, being one of the most rapidly expanding economies in the Middle East. This is further fuelled by the developments happening due to the Qatar National Vision 2030, which has further stimulated growth across all sectors. This is most evident from the increased investment and flourishing projects that are taking place within the construction and hospitality sectors. This does in fact provide strong growth opportunities for the logistics sector as there is greater demand for reliable connectivity. We remain dedicated to providing local companies and the national economy with support through superior quality. Although the existing local address and street marking system can at times pose a challenge in our goal to facilitate swift delivery of consignments, we continuously look for solutions in order to provide best services to our customers. We have integrated systems and highly trained workforces, which are equipped to effectively coordinate with the concerned parties for the exact location to ensure safe and efficient deliveries.
Last year, Qatar announced liberalising the courier sector by allowing private companies to operate here. How do you see this changing the dynamics of the logistics sector in Qatar?
The national initiative to cultivate a more open business landscape within the courier sector provides a unique and positive opportunity for businesses across various sectors, particularly in the field of retail. Online shopping is becoming a more popular consumer alternative with the increased mobile and Internet penetration not only in the country, but also across the region. With this policy, private courier companies are now able to offer their services alongside state-owned Qatar Postal Service Company. It will drive competition, and private service providers will clamour to provide services at a lower price to create competitive advantage – something that will greatly benefit the consumers. This will also help enhance the operations of small and medium-sized enterprises and local entrepreneurs.
People in this region still have apprehensions about shopping online. How is DHL addressing this issue?
Any apprehension with online buying is mostly directed towards ensuring that purchases are being delivered in the fastest and most efficient manner, which creates a market gap for trusted service providers that are reliable and transparent. This is where DHL comes in, as we have established ourselves as one of the leading logistics providers not only in the country, but also in the international arena. We are looking to address the needs of an expanding e-commerce sector. This is especially crucial as Qatar is now considered the seventh largest business-to-consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa region. The trend is expected to continue in the coming years, especially with the national government directing more investment in the sector in recognition of the wide range of possibilities. The government’s efforts in this regard will also impact the logistics market as infrastructure projects continue to emerge. In addition, the government is also developing a more unified and standardised system to address challenges in the logistics sector – all of these will contribute to a more dynamic market in the country and beyond.
What kinds of solution do you offer for merchants and the business sector?
Innovation has always been the key driving force in our development strategy. As a result, we have always pursued creative and pioneering solutions that can help organisations and individuals with their particular needs. Our meticulous initiatives include the recent launch of a dedicated air network to Qatar, which is scheduled five days a week from DHL Express’ Middle East headquarters in Bahrain to Qatar’s Hamad International Airport. The new flights and expanded network aim to address the growing need for express services, streamline operations, and effectively reduce the transit time for packages from North and South America by one day. We have always made an effort to strengthen communication channels with merchants so we can better provide them with tailor-made solutions of unparalleled services in terms of delivery of their products.
Have you introduced any latest technology or solution to the local market?
The logistics sector has always welcomed the latest modern advancements and integrated these technologies to facilitate better quality services at a faster rate and to reinforce the market’s competitive advantage. We have also adopted this mindset as part of our innovation-driven development plans. At the moment we have an integrated online Shipment Management Solutions in Qatar. This programme aims to fill the market gap for occasional shippers, small and medium businesses with regular shipping requirements, and large-volume business-to-business shipments. In addition, this platform provides our clientele with more convenient option of scheduling their courier pickups online. We are also the first company in the local market to establish an Electronic Proof of Delivery (POD) service, which directly captures customer’s signature onscreen. The capability of Electronic Signature (e-signature) eliminates the need for hard-copy POD sheets. It also allows for increased shipment visibility as well as a more streamlined delivery experience. This latest system is also an important part of our green initiative that has been developed to promote environmental sustainability. By eliminating the need for printing and post hard-copy delivery sheets or PODs, we are able to reduce our carbon footprint.
What is your future plan for Qatar? Do you plan to open more retail service points?
We remain steadfast in our commitment to provide unparalleled logistics services across the region. As one of the trusted names in the market, we will continue to consolidate and reinforce our position and create new benchmarks of excellence. With this in mind, we are actively working to reduce time and increase efficiency across our various logistics solutions. We are looking to expand our network in the near future to better serve our clients. In the recent past, we have opened a branch in Mesaieed and the Barwa Village, which helped us connect Al Wakra and airport as well as the facilities in the Qatar Science and Technology Park, to address the needs of students and organisations in the area. We will continue to create additional service points across the country in coming years.