How did I built Courier Marketplace in Middle East ?

Its been exactly 4 months I was constantly working on this project. I was very excited to understand about courier logistics and its use-case. I have deep knowledge and experience in Land transportation and Freight forwarding industry. With an estimated 260m internet users, Middle East e-commerce is expected to jump from $20.6bn in 2012 to a forecasted $33.8bn in sales for 2014. This is expected to increase even more to $51.4bn by 2017. This size is huge, There are still plenty of opportunities for Small grocery shops, Vertical e-commerce ventures and food delivery startups.

Major challenges faced while building Initial prototype (MVP)

  • Climate is a major challenge as its very Hot throughout 6 Months.(Delivery boys drooping your order or considering it a low priority is considered normal)
  • Bringing new clients and making them understand about easy use of courier aggregators as a service..
  • Working closely with courier providers and following-up with them for technical bugs and fixtures.
  • Drop in services and lag in deliveries.
  • Competing against big players and trying to match delivery volumes and most importantly the prices.

Overview of smartphone usage in Middle East:

High smartphone penetration is cited for the growth in mobile commerce. Smartphones now account for nearly two out of every five phones in the Middle East, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Smartphone use in the region will nearly double in 2014 to 112.2m, up from 67m in 2013. By 2015, Smartphone penetration in the Middle East region is projected to grow by up to 39%

It was very clear that deliveries in near future will be booked, processed and tracked using an Mobile phone. It is a new world of Apps marketplace and aggregator businesses flourished.

We had no idea to built a “Me too App”, we wanted to make the service smooth and have fun on the way. The real intention was to make something cooler, which can help you to deliver goods from Dubai UAE to any part of the world.

We first set our foot in understanding about Shipping APIs, We found some Interesting companies in this space.

Above companies have a huge set of APIs which is integrated and are sold to companies so as to setup e-commerce logistics channels. They enable these APIs on your E-commerce websites and your customers can now choose courier providers for their deliveries.

Here are some of the companies they have tied up with.

Easypost
Postmen

For us we wanted to build an easy website which can be used to book orders on by consumers. And it would give real-time notification to the courier providers for the pick-up.

“Once you bring 5 paying customers, the next 500 customers is easy”. But the amount of time taken to bring 5 customers takes 1 year, but the next 500 customers will take 6 months.

You do more in compressed time, it takes momentum and builds compounded effect.

Step 1

*Building an Simple MVP to book orders (Google Forms)

Google form Integrated on website.

We used the above form to book orders and above data would give users price and estimated time for delivery.

Pricing is calculated only from UAE to all Regions.

Step 2

  • Building easy back-end to process orders:
Above orders are booked through Trial APIs.

Real time booking of the orders through Skynet API, we have special prices and contract with them. Using Skynet API allows global access to vast resources deliveries across the world.

Step 3

Tracking of orders for Users

This will be integrated in the user Dashboard.

Step 4

Alignment of Internal operations and Invoicing

Every time a new orders is booked, New request is sent to the internal operations Team for the implementation of the order. This is associated with Shipment number (AWB)

Step 5

  • Airway Bill and Commercial Invoicing.
Sample Airway Bill
Sample Performa Invoice

Step 6

We enabled 3 payment modes which was mostly preferred by consumers using online payments.

  • COD (Cash on delivery)
  • Card-on-Delivery(This is used by consumers who prefer using cards on POS Machines and are less reliable using online payments)
  • Online Payments.

Card payments are part and parcel of modern life. When you go shopping, it’s a reasonable assumption that you’ll pay for items using your credit or debit payments— it’s easier than carrying loads of cash, after all.

But despite paying by card being easier and faster, according to Omnia Pay, a payments company, Middle East consumer are still very loyal to traditional payment methods. Indeed, in the UAE, cash is still king, with 80% of the population unbanked, according to the Payfort report and Omnia Pay’s statistics.

“Customers need to be educated about new payment methods and see the benefits as well as experience the added convenience for themselves for it to gain traction,” says Maseeh Ahmed, CEO of Omnia Pay.

As an example, the traditional point of sales (POS) system, the cashier machine that the seller plugs your card into, works well in accepting card payments. But there are disadvantages — that’s where the mobile point of sales comes in handy, or mPOS for short.

We are still testing card-on-delivery and understanding more on future business based on customer understanding.

We look forward for an awesomely great journey and unlearn each day at work, try to disrupt things everyday.

Team. (Mahmood Khan, Pratik Shetty)

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