Noon.com now live in Saudi Arabia, GCC’s largest e-com market
The Middle East’s newest online retail platform, Noon.com, is now live in Saudi Arabia, just a few weeks after launching operations in Dubai, where it’s main Distribution Centre is located.
The company appears to be using a hub and spoke model for its e-commerce logistics, with the warehouse in Dubai feeding into at least one that has been opened in Riyadh.
“We will operate our own delivery fleet in major cities in Saudi Arabia,” said a top official. “The warehouse is in Riyadh and there are multiple marketplace operations.”
The official declined to comment on delivery frequencies and whether the whole of the kingdom will have same-day or next-day delivery within the next year.
SOUQ.com, the primary competitor to Noon, buoyed by its acquisition by Amazon for US $500-million, has invested heavily in its last mile fulfilment arm, and has rolled out same-day delivery across the UAE, but with spotty success.
Noon.com’s website link for Saudi shoppers lists multiple delivery options — including three-day and four-day frequencies — depending on where the shopper is located. Given the size of Saudi Arabia compared to the UAE, it is unlikely that Noon would be able to do same or next-day delivery beyond the capital.
As in the UAE, Noon.com is also offering up the platform for Saudi entrepreneurs and start-ups to showcase and sell their wares.
Wadi.com and Souq.com are the dominant e-commerce brands in the Saudi Arabian online shopping sector, so Noon.com’s greatest challenge initially will be finding a way to offer what the other platforms cant, either in terms of greater scope of products, or a faster, more convenient delivery experience.
The priority categories in the initial push are electronics, fashion, beauty, baby, home and kitchen and groceries.
It is interesting that groceries have been listed right at the time of the launch itself. Groceries and fast-moving consumer durables will have a big role to play in generating a higher frequency of daily shopper visits.
Saudi Arabia’s supermarket chains are now entering strategic alliances with online vendors rather than just rely on their online platforms.
This will also instantly increase the number of products listed on the e-commerce sites and also give them access to third-party warehousing and delivery facilities operated by the supermarkets.