PR Interview Questions Database

Tell us about Shipa and your journey with Agility.

Shipa helps businesses, startups, and consumers manage their supply chains online.
Our story begins in 2015 when we were investing in start-ups across the globe. We were looking into companies related to logistics and eCommerce. As we dug deeper, we kept hearing how eCommerce was stable but the logistics behind it, especially delivery, was a major issue.
While there have been traditional players in the market, the region battles with ePayments. Customers have preferred cash on delivery and international players didn’t want to play in that game. We were left with just one or two companies—which
52didn’t offer much flexibility to eCommerce platforms.
The industry was in dire need of new players in the market and that’s when we launched Shipa. The genesis was to really to build a technology platform with enough capacity in the market to match demand and supply. We started the platform to make it easy to move goods. Initially, we started small - moving goods between towns and cities, and then between countries in the Middle East. Technology takes center stage in our business as eCommerce is tech driven. So, we had to create a player that spoke the same language and the same culture.
Shipa Delivery is a vision of this digital reality that makes it easy to move stuff with just three clicks and is user-friendly, quick, and simple. The idea is to try and do something like eCommerce for the physical part of what’s behind the digital part of
the business.
Basically, we created all these tools and interfaces to make it easy for merchants to get onboarded on the platform, upload their orders, and off they go into our network. On the other side of the platform, we have the consumer who wants flexibility and visibility on what’s happening with their goods. We give both parties all of that directly on this platform

What makes your offering a unique proposition in the market?

The differentiator is the delivery of our service. It really goes down to performance and experience. If we do a parallel with eCommerce, what makes an eCommerce business successful? It’s usually that front-end experience and the back-end
execution. It’s not that different in our industry, we give our merchants that front-end experience with a dashboard that displays all the information as well as the experience —which is the execution behind it.
We take ownership of the delivery process and ensure our clients’ customers are satisfied with the service provides. For last-mile deliveries we have a hybrid model where we have capacity committed to us and for additional capacity, especially during peak periods, we get it from the market. This ensures we never under-deliver while still staying profitable.

In the past five years how much has the last-mile sector evolved?

A lot has changed. When we began our business five years back the norm was to deliver products in two to three days.
Today, that doesn’t work. We’re now focused on delivering products within a 12 to 24-hour period. People want faster deliveries and two to three days doesn’t cut it anymore. Additionally, there is a large variety of goods that are being shopped online today. Electronics were 60% of the items we delivered, and the rest were fashion and apparel items. This has undergone a tremendous change. Today, we’re delivering a wider product range from groceries to medicines and everyday home items. Consumer buying patterns have changed completely in the last five years because there are new
players in the market. And we’re loving this.
We love to start fresh with customers. We are always on the lookout for those newcomers in eCommerce because the best the most exciting part is to build a solution with them.

How do you see last-mile deliveries further evolve?

There’s a limit to what speed can do. Last-mile delivery will be about developing extra convenience. Pickup spots and lockers will become more common and convenient. Today, many companies are putting up these boxes so customers can collect their items at their convenience. In many cities, governments are driving this initiative, as it’s sustainable and cost-efficient. For instance, Saudi Post is putting up lockers across the cities. So, our role is to partner with all of them. However, we’re going to be completely agnostic, so customers have the choice of how they want their items delivered. We’re very flexible. 

At the end of the day, customer is king.
With regards to sustainable measures, there’s a lot of discussion going on with city planners and governing bodies on optimizing infrastructure for deliveries and making it safer for delivery bikes. Then there’s the electrification of the supply chain – both on the ground and in the air, whether it’s hybrid vehicles or drone deliveries. We’re going to see a lot happen in this space.

What are some of the challenges you currently face?

The biggest issue we are facing is eCommerce returns and refunds, which is also an opportunity for us. Cash On Delivery has been a pain point for a lot of merchants as the return rate is high, but once we get past the trust factor, customers start using their cards to make payments. Customer confidence is critical. The point is not to make them go away. The return and refund policy is to make it more ubiquitous and more efficient. So that the percentage drops. While reserve logistics is a challenge, once it’s handled properly it can be done efficiently.
Another challenge is last-mile delivery itself. In the supply chain, last-mile deliveries are the most complex part of the business, and probably about 50% of the cost of bringing something from origin to destination. As mentioned earlier, the locker
system is one of the solutions and the other is to club together orders for delivery. It’s being worked upon and soon we’ll see the best possible solution.
Health and safety are a constant challenge. There are a lot of good ideas out there to make it safe for the drivers. For us, it’s very important that customers see us as an employer of choice as we try our best to make it safe for our delivery agents out there.

From past consumer behavior, what are the most in-demand products bought over e-commerce channels during Ramadan?

Based on the products that we’ve handled in the Shipa Mall and Shipa Delivery businesses since we launched them, demand tends to balloon across several product categories during Ramadan, but by far, I would say that apparel, jewelry and home accessories see the biggest spikes.

What is the size of business growth on commercial activities in the UAE during Ramadan?

Well, we typically see the volumes of parcel deliveries, both through our B2B and B2C networks, increase by around 30%. A particular category that is expecting to substantial growth is grocery home delivery, to record level never seen before, now that consumer became familiar and comfortable with the online experience.
In terms of the volume of goods shipped, we’re looking high double digit growth, driven by post pandemic behavior that has driven a marked increase in ecommerce. Ramadhan month volumes should buck the trend this year.

Please outline how consumers can plan their shopping needs (e-commerce) better ahead of Ramadan and Eid.

The festivities and the spirit of the holy month brings everyone closer. People socialize more with their friends and families, primarily for iftar. The period of fasting also increases demand for specific consumer products.
The reality is that many people don’t plan their purchases in advance, and of those that do, the majority wait until just one or two weeks before the start of Ramadan to stock up in bulk. Only around 10% currently plan their purchases well ahead of time.
That equates to a lot of shopping activity in the two weeks leading up to Ramadan, and continuing throughout the period. Then of course, there is the shopping associated with Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.
My advice would be for ecommerce consumers to shop smarter by making their Ramadan purchases around three to four weeks before the period commences. Any earlier than that and it’s easy to misjudge their needs, prompting further panic-buying at the last minute—any later and they’re already into that last minute, running the risk of products selling out and their deliveries arriving too late.
By making the majority of Ramadan purchases around a month in advance, consumers can avoid those risks. Not only that, but it would help to relieve the burden on vendors and delivery providers, by spreading the shopping activity out.
Everybody wins, because it would flatten the curve, making for fewer product availability and delivery issues just ahead of, and during, Ramadan—so those truly urgent last-minute purchases would execute more smoothly.