Ramadan with Amazon: A behind-the-scenes look
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Ramadan with Amazon: A behind-the-scenes look

Ramadan with Amazon: A behind-the-scenes look

The heightened demand comes alongside expectations of speed, convenience, and reliability

Gulf Business
Amazon boxes

Ramadan is among the most important moments in MENA’s retail calendar.

As families get together for special gatherings, iftars and gift giving, research shows a majority of people spend more money during the Holy Month. Many look forward to the period’s special offers and promotions and even delay purchases until this time to take advantage of these offers.

In short, it’s a big deal for Amazon, for its customers, and for the businesses it works with.

“This presents a unique opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and entrepreneurs,” says Prashant Saran, director of Operations, Amazon MENA. “They can deepen their engagement with customers through culturally relevant products and services and expand their presence in the market.”

(Prashant Saran, director of Operations, Amazon MENA. Image credit: Supplied)

The heightened demand on Amazon, for purchases including gifts and decorations at this time, also comes alongside expectations of speed, convenience and reliability. These are important differentiators for retail brands at busy seasons such as Ramadan, when people are planning for daily iftars, suhoors and visits from family and friends.

Saran describes how, as well as Amazon’s large user base, SMBs and entrepreneurs can tap into the company’s expertise, fulfillment programme and last-mile infrastructure. “SMBs can rely on Amazon to store, pick, pack and ship customer orders, empowering them to offer options such as one-day and same-day delivery,” he says.

“This competitive advantage would be difficult for small businesses to achieve without the scale and logistical capabilities of our operations.”

Advanced fulfillment and logistics

Those logistical capabilities may be crucial to exceeding expectations at peak shopping times.

But the innovation required to build this reliable, yet agile infrastructure doesn’t begin and end around peak moments.

For Amazon, it is a continual, year-round process. “Our relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction drives us to continually invest in our people, processes and technology to ensure we are ready to deliver,” Saran says.

“Throughout the year, we leverage advanced logistics solutions to streamline our operations, ensuring every package reaches its destination swiftly and accurately.”

The operation behind those swift deliveries is robust in its coverage and scale. Today, Amazon’s network in MENA comprises more than 13 fulfillment centres, 720 external fulfillment nodes, and 65 owned and third-party delivery stations across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to Saran, Amazon is committed to expanding its footprint in the region.

“We continue to grow our fulfillment and transportation network to boost our capacity for rising demand – all while meeting our delivery promises during busy shopping moments,” he says.

Invention, optimisation and dedication

For the customer, ordering online is a simple, seamless process. Yet a peek behind the scenes of Amazon’s fulfillment and delivery network reveals the complex operation required to fulfill these purchases. It leverages a sophisticated combination of dedicated employees and partners, optimised transportation services and innovative technology.

After packages arrive at a delivery station, technology sorts them by zones to maximise efficiency and ensure the delivery window for the item is met. Algorithms optimise the picking path for employees, minimising walking distances within facilities. And once a package is loaded onto a van, it continues its journey through an extensive delivery network.

“Technology is the backbone of our operations, and our employees and backend technology work in harmony to meet the unique demands of busy periods such as Ramadan,” Saran says. “This year, we’ve further harnessed these capabilities to ensure that from the moment a package enters our fulfillment centre to when it arrives at a customer’s doorstep, the journey is optimised for speed and reliability.”

Supporting local communities

For Saran, this fast and reliable service is key to helping to spread the joy of the season throughout the region. This doesn’t begin and end with Amazon’s well-known customer obsession.

The company also recognises the broader responsibility that comes with its success and scale. This Ramadan, it will again mobilise its operations, delivery network and teams to support the distribution of thousands of kilos of fresh meals and food hampers to underserved communities in some of the most remote regions across the Middle East and North Africa.

The meal donation programme is run in partnership with the UAE Food Bank – for the fourth year in 2024 – and is also active in Saudi Arabia through a partnership with the Saudi Food Bank (Eta’am), and in Egypt in partnership with the Egyptian Food Bank.

Its success relies on employee volunteers, who give up their free time to pack and deliver essential food items to people who need them the most.

It is a demonstration of Amazon’s commitment to providing meaningful support to the communities it operates in – and another example of how expertise, innovation and determination combine to meet the moment, whatever it may be.

Read: Amazon GCC’s Stefano Martinelli on Prime Day and its highlights

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