NAQEL facility at KKIA Airport, Riyadh

NAQEL facility at KKIA Airport, Riyadh

Boosting e-commerce services in pandemic

NAQEL Express, one of the largest domestic logistics service providers in Saudi Arabia, is successfully meeting the growing demands of e-commerce, propelled by Covid-19 pandemic

July 2020

For businesses at large, managing successful supply chain operations and home deliveries has been extremely challenging during the Covid-19 pandemic and especially when the customer demands have significantly exceeded delivery capacity.

NAQEL Express, one of the largest domestic logistics service providers in Saudi Arabia, said it took up the challenge by using it as an opportunity to learn and acquire new ways of operating and dealing with the crisis emerging out of the virus outbreak.

“For our management team this was a perfect opportunity to learn the art of service recovery and implement innovative methods to successfully deal with similar challenges in future. We will continue to invest in expanding our delivery capacities and strive to exceed the expectations of online shoppers in the Kingdom and Gulf wide,” said Rajeeb Chowdhury, Chief of Planning and Customer Service, NAQEL Express.

Saudi employees at the warehouse of NAQEL Express in Riyadh

Saudi employees at the warehouse of NAQEL Express in Riyadh

The company has significantly scaled up its delivery capacity across the kingdom and as a result, it is now delivering more than 90 per cent of the online orders within the delivery times promised by the e-retailers.



The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a significant change in lifestyle and consumer behaviour. Customers who are wary of visiting their favourite shopping malls are switching to online shopping as the more preferred mode of purchasing. The reasons are very obvious – it is safe, hygienic and it also provides much wider choice and value for money.

Saudi Arabia is witnessing more than 100 per cent growth in online orders during the pandemic as opposed to typical market growth which hovers around 25 per cent annually. Given this background, both e-retailers and final delivery companies face significant challenges in meeting the massive growth in orders placed by the online shoppers.



Even with the largest domestic delivery network in Saudi Arabia, NAQEL Express faced a herculean task to meet the growing demands of online shoppers as the volume of online delivery requests significantly surpassed its delivery capacity. Besides, there were enormous constraints on most e-retailers to match the scale of online orders placed by the shoppers. This often resulted in significant delays in the fulfillment of delivery orders. The delivery times promised by most international retailers were accordingly adjusted anywhere between  20 days and 90 days as opposed to normal delivery time of  3 to 5 days.

“In order to meet the growing demands of our online shoppers, we have now significantly scaled up our delivery capacities across the kingdom. In spite of obvious challenges in hiring personnels due to travel ban and lock-down, we have doubled the number of couriers delivering shipments to our customer homes,” said Eng Abdulrahman Al Zaharani, Country Manager, e-Commerce Division, Saudi Arabia.

“Our customers realised delays in receiving their shipments partly due to delays in fulfillment by the international retailers and partly due to constraints in the international air transportation and our limited delivery capacity vis-à-vis unforeseen growth in orders. Over the course of few weeks after the lock-down, we have significantly improved our delivery capacity and managed to deliver more than 90 per cent of the online orders with the delivery times promised by the e-retailers,” he added.



NAQEL Express has established itself as the dominant player in the Kingdom in the delivery of cross-border online shipment orders. The company has set-up its own airport facilities at all the three major airports – KKIA Airport Riyadh, KAIA Airport Jeddah and KFIA Dammam. “In order to meet the growing needs of our online shoppers, our clearance teams at the airports are now working 24x7 to support smooth and fast clearance of all orders received from our e-retailers,” said Eng Ammar Al Harbi, Director of Gateways & Clearance.

While fulfilling the needs of online shoppers, NAQEL has also worked closely with the Ministry of Health in clearing critical medical supplies during the pandemic. “So far we have cleared 13 air charters and 72 trailer load of shipments for Ministry of Health. Besides, our pharma business unit is involved in the transportation of Covid-19 test samples to concerned laboratories,” said Fahad Al Salhi, Head of Pharma and Healthcare Solutions.



The scale of growth in online orders also resulted in significant increase in the number of customer queries received by its call centre as well as social media channels. After the lock-down NAQEL customer service team was overwhelmed with high volume of customer queries which was far higher than their processing capacity. In order to cope with the increased demand from the customers, NAQEL invested heavily in increasing the capacity of the call centre and social media agents by more than two folds. “In spite of exponential increase in the call volumes and number of requests made through social media channels, today we are answering nearly 100 per cent of customer requests every day. We have implemented a series of innovative solutions in order to meet specific needs of our on-line customers,” said Norah Al Abdallah, Customer Service Director, NAQEL Express.

Clearly, while the threat of the virus has led to a significant shift in lifestyle and habits of consumers, it has also altered the way organisations operate. As the e-commerce space continues to grow worldwide, NAQEL is also solidifying its foothold in the Saudi Arabian marketplace.

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