On time, always

July 13, 2023 | By Anurima Das

Lets Tech out – cover

Ahead of the Amazon Prime Day 2023, we visited the Amazon Delivery Station, in Al Quoz to witness how the brand works the multiple steps in the last mile tying it with technology to ensure that every order reaches the customer on time. Amazon has redefined delivery timelines by bringing it down to a few hours and today the brand can easily tackle order rush even during Prime Day with equal prowess, courtesy its streamlined approach and technology-backed processes.

In conversation with Prashant Saran, Director of Operations for Amazon MENA to understand the processes a little more closely. Read through here and don’t forget to take a look at the video walkthrough of the processes @https://youtu.be/Apl3w3crW0Y

Same-day or one-day delivery is a big USP for any brand to win loyal customers, and Amazon has cracked that way ahead of others. How do you do it?

Our obsession with our customers pushes us to continuously raise the bar of customer experience. When Jeff Bezos (our founder and first CEO), announced the launch of Amazon Prime in 2005, its two-day delivery offering was revolutionary. His vision was that fast delivery should be an everyday experience—rather than an occasional indulgence. Since then, we have continued to innovate to reduce customers’ waiting time between order and delivery, introducing next-day, and subsequently same-day delivery. Today, the Prime promise of one-day and same-day delivery across our key markets in the Middle East and North Africa region ensures that customers receive the products that they want, with speed, efficiency and reliability.

Throughout the year, we work on enhancing our people, processes and technology in order to reach more customers in a shorter delivery time and with a wider selection of products in preparation for key events such as Prime Day. Our operations footprint continues to grow across the Middle East and North Africa, enabling us to work the magic of same-day and one-delivery – safely and reliably across the region. For example, this year, we opened a new Fulfillment Center in the UAE that increases our storage capacity by 70%, allowing us to store even more products for sellers and offer customers an even wider selection. We also continue to build and test new solutions and process innovations, while reskilling and upskilling our employees to evolve and improve our customer experience.

What happens in the backend to make the process smooth and customer-ready?

What makes the magic happen is world class technology coupled with the most customer obsessed people. This is the backbone of our operations. Complex algorithms map the ‘last mile’ of the journey of a package – from the time it enters a delivery station to the time it reaches a customer’s doorstep. Our employees work in symphony with our backend technology to speed up deliveries and deliver a smooth experience for customers.  

After a package arrives at this delivery station, the technology sorts packages by zones to maximize delivery efficiency. This means that algorithms evaluate a variety of factors – from how many packages the facility is receiving at a given time to what the delivery promise window is for that package, the delivery locations, and what our delivery capacity is for the day. Each package that comes through this facility gets assigned with a sorting location when the receiver scans the package. And each sort zone typically consists of multiple packages with closely located addresses.

Once the packages are loaded into the vans, the final leg of the package journey is made possible through our extensive delivery network. Since 2014, Amazon has built and scaled an entire global transportation network from the ground up to meet the needs of our growing customer base and create a great place to work for our employees, partners, and drivers who work along the journey of an Amazon package. Here in the UAE, our network consists of eight delivery stations and a network of small and medium delivery service partners. We place delivery stations close to large Amazon customer populations and leverage innovative technology to optimize delivery routes, thus maximizing efficiency on the road and reducing delivery times for customers.

Collaboration is instrumental in building a successful delivery network.  We’ve built an infrastructure of partners across our last mile, including small and medium businesses and carrier networks such as Emirates Post to get packages into the hands of Amazon customers with speed, convenience and reliability. Further, we support our small and medium delivery partners with logistics expertise, technology, and training to allow their businesses to thrive. In essence, growing and scaling our transportation network has allowed us to build up our capacity and create flexibility to ensure we continue to delight customers as we meet the growing customer demand.

What’s special for Prime Day this year? What can the customers expect?

Our annual Prime Day event is 48 hours of deals across various categories of products on Amazon, for Prime members across UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This year, Prime Day will offer hundreds of thousands of deals across 30 product categories including electronics, fashion, beauty, kitchen, home, Amazon Devices, and more, with incredible savings and free shipping on local and international brands.

Marking our fourth Prime Day in the UAE, this highly anticipated 48-hour event gives us an opportunity to create an exceptional customer experience for our Prime members with great savings during the summer season. Fast, free delivery during Prime Day is made possible thanks to Amazon’s operations network, which is powered by a combination of innovative technology, optimized transportation services, dedicated employees, and partners, powering same-day and one-day deliveries to customers.

Technology plays a big role in building the right last-mile infrastructure. What are the implementations at work at present and what’s in the pipeline?

When it comes to technology, Amazon is known for relentlessly innovating on behalf of our customers in order to ensure a fast, safe and convenient shopping experience. We leverage our 25+ years of global innovation, operational expertise and technology advancements to bring millions of products to customers in across the region.

What role do AI and robotics play in making the process of operations seamless?

Technology has to be the heartbeat of any business looking to establish a best-in-class fulfillment operation. At Amazon, we believe that the power of technology, digitization and automation is truly transformational, and our teams regularly test operational inventions at locations around the world. In MENA, we are constantly evaluating how we can leverage technology to create new solutions to enhance safety for our employees and improve our processes. We support the digitalization goals of governments in the region, collaborating with various public and private sector organizations to advance innovation in operations, retail and logistics. For example, in the UAE, aligning with the vision of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, we aim to grow the number of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) that sell on Amazon.ae from 50,000 to 100,000 by 2026, providing SMEs access to customers, as well as our technology and logistics solutions. In Saudi Arabia, we continue to innovate and expand our operations in support of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal of establishing Saudi Arabia as the go-to logistics hub for the region.

In the last-mile, the most successful systems are driven by AI and algorithms that allocate packages to delivery partners and then optimize their routes to speed those parcels to customers. Our delivery stations deploy this kind of tech to enable more customers to benefit from services such as next-day and even same-day delivery.

The MENA region’s acceleration towards a digital economy, a culture of innovation and a highly connected and young population in markets such as UAE, KSA and Egypt – the region is well-poised for future innovations in automation and robotics. It is still very much Day 1 for us at Amazon, as we continue to invest in our operations so that our cutting-edge technology and our fantastic employees work in harmony to deliver a great customer experience.

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