E-commerce platform AWOK.com plans MENA expansion
AWOK.com has an aggressive expansion plan for its e-commerce logistics operations in the Middle East region, after seeing strong growth in sales in the UAE and from surrounding markets.
“We’re currently investing in Saudi Arabia, where we plan to establish a fulfilment centre, because at present we’re only operating in the UAE. During 2017 we expanded our operations across the GCC, with Saudi Arabia being our first location for a new centre. After that we’ll look at expanding into the MENA region as well,” says Ulugbek Yuldashev, founder and CEO, AWOK.com.
The e-commerce platform has seen significant growth over the last year, fuelled by the UAE’s appetite for online shopping generally. E-Commerce will be a mega-trend for businesses in the UAE and the market is expected to be valued at US $10bn (Dhs36.7bn) by the end of 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Recent research conducted by Google reveals that the UAE leads global smartphone penetration at 73.8 per cent and the country’s internet usage statistics show that 91.9 per cent of the population has internet access.
To cope with this rising demand, AWOK.com has been reconfiguring its fulfilment centres. “We’ve gone higher to maximise volume in the fulfilment centre, we’re using multi-level racking because we want to use as much of the space as possible,” says Yuldashev.
“We’ve designed the racking so that every level is walkable using a PDA, with each item being picked manually. We do this because each order contains multiple products from different locations within the centre,” he adds.
AWOK.com’s Dubai fulfilment centre is located in Dubai Investments Park, with dispatch centres across the UAE, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. “So a product is picked at the warehouse and then sent to the dispatch centre, from which last mile delivery takes place. We use this set-up because we’re delivering more than a million products every month and that traffic from the main warehouse, as well as the timing from the centre to the customer, doesn’t make sense,” explains Yuldashev.
The small dispatch centres are only for delivery to the customer, very short term storage of products that have already been ordered and they have a similar set up to the main warehouse, but on a much smaller scale in terms of racking. It is understood that the new fulfilment centre in Saudi Arabia will be a full-size warehouse purely for the Saudi market.