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Building the backbone of Dubai's e-commerce sector
2019-03-30 00:00:00

Brand View: Fadi Amoudi wanted to get into the online grocery business, but quickly realised its logistical challenges. This led him to robots, warehouses, and the creation of IQ Fulfillment When developing a website, app, or any e-commerce service, the real test is being able to deliver on the promise made to the customer. Customers don’t like delays and, equipped with the trumpet that is social media, are not afraid to voice their thoughts; the pressure is always on to provide and maintain a competitive standard of service. Therefore, many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often get the design and product development right but fall short on Fulfillment and logistics. This is where IQ Fulfillment comes in as the first robotic Fulfillment centre in the region. The company, itself a new start-up in Dubai, is aiming to offer a solution to the logistical headaches SMEs often face. “We undertook this investment without signing up a single client. We believe in Dubai, and that e-commerce in the region will grow more than predicted,” says Fadi Amoudi, Chief Executive Officer of IQ Fulfillment. “We want to support SMEs not only in terms of competitive pricing but also by offering them cutting-edge technology that is not available anywhere else in the region. E-commerce is divided into two sections: the front end the customer interacts with, represented by a service’s design and interface, and the back end where all the work takes place. We work hand in hand with SMEs to build a solid and smooth-flowing back end.” In essence, an entrepreneur with an idea for a product can develop it, build its app or website, introduce it to the market, and start its publicity. When the orders start rolling in, IQ Fulfillment will handle details pertaining to warehouse storage, order processing, and delivery of the product. “We’re not talking about your average warehouse storage or sorting, loading and delivery facility. We are talking about taking logistics to the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness, using the latest in artificial intelligence, robotics, and software solutions.” The company’s warehouse is based in Dubai Investment Park, and Amoudi is aiming to have operations up and running, with the first SMEs signed up by May this year to experience the first robotic Fulfillment centre in the region. The company has certainly set up at the right time, with conglomerates like Noon.com, Amazon and Souq.com regularly making headlines. The value of the e-commerce sector in the UAE is expected to reach $27.2 billion by 2020, double what it was in 2016, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum. At the same time, e-commerce spending in the Emirates increased by 48 percent year-on-year last year, according to Mashreq Bank’s latest reports. The catalyst for the idea of IQ Fulfillment came to Amoudi only last year when he decided to move with his family to Dubai. Coming from an FMCG background, he decided to set up an online grocery delivery service. When he did some research, however, he realised the main stumbling block for e-commerce platforms was the logistical challenge. He quickly established that this was a problem faced by most, if not all, e-commerce SMEs in the region. He regrouped and decided to eradicate this huge hurdle for other businesses. Instead of acquiring a problem, he decided to become a solution. “So, what is my biggest loophole? It is scaling up for e-commerce; we are talking about back end, warehouses, peaks, real estate, transport and employees. These loopholes are a big dent for SMEs. The question now was: how can we close up those loopholes?” This brought Amoudi into contact with Quicktron, the Chinese leading intelligent robotics company that supplies the warehouse AGV robots for e-commerce giant Alibaba. He was soon on a flight from Dubai to Shanghai. The meetings went well and, a few months later, he had signed a deal with Quicktron to be their representative in the Middle East and Africa. This led to the creation of an IQ subsidiary, IQ Robotics, a technology company that will provide the robots for the IQ Fulfillment warehouse in Dubai, but also target other potential customers in the wider region, offering turnkey solutions. “We have a strategic partnership with Quicktron for the entire Middle East and North Africa. We distribute, maintain, market, and build brands. We are, in essence, creating a Dubai-based centre of excellence.” Amoudi also struck several strategic partnerships across the MENA region, with multinational corporations such as Honeywell Logistics, to be the regional representative for the latest in logistics software solutions; Damon Technologies for Warehouse Automation; and Locked Air for package protection. This makes IQ Robotics the newest integrator on the block and IQ Fulfillment the first-of-its-kind warehouse in the region with the latest in cutting edge technology, assuring seamless and highly efficient execution. Another IQ subsidiary will soon follow, IQ Express, which will look after the transport of goods after they leave the warehouse. IQ Robotics, IQ Fulfillment, and IQ Express are all covered by the umbrella that is IQ Holding. Currently, the company employs 26 staff at its headquarters in Dubai, with an estimated increase to 45 by the end of April. However, Amoudi has further horizons he is aiming for after consolidating in the UAE, through his seven-year plan that includes expansions into Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, China and then the wider world with strategically placed Fulfillment centres. “If we are going to build something, we are going to build something from the ground up. It has to be out of the ordinary and top of the line,” Amoudi concludes.