Saudi Arabian supply chain solutions provider Starlinks has partnered with international e-commerce operation Doddle in a bid to expand the consumer e-commerce space across the region. The Starlinks Connect network, enabled by Doddle technology, will launch in Q1 2021 with a growing network of PUDO collection points across Saudi Arabia.
According to the company, the Saudi Arabian e-commerce market is growing significantly and is currently worth US$9.8bn (forecast to year end 2020, BMI Research, Oct 2020) with an annual growth rate of 7.1% (www.statista.com, 2019). However, growth is hindered by final-mile delivery challenges, with the lack of an official addressing protocol across Saudi Arabia making home delivery difficult and necessitating constant contact between customers and busy couriers.
Starlinks hopes its Connect service will remove these issues, with local collection and returns points in every Saudi region. The network will be driven by Doddle’s technology platform, already in used by carriers, postal services and retailers across the world, including USPS, Australia Post, Amazon and Marks & Spencer. The partnership comes on the back of a similar agreement announced with Japanese carrier Yamato in September to create a nationwide PUDO network in Japan.
With 200+ locations at launch and plans for over 800 locations throughout Saudi Arabia by the end of 2021, Starlinks intends to roll out the service into the UAE and then across the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over the next 18 months. It notes that lifestyle convenience is the focus for the network, with PUDO locations open every day, early until late, in supermarkets, fuel stations, gyms and popular retail outlets.
Gary Blythe, CEO of Starlinks, commented, “This is a significant shift for us and for the local market, with the new Starlinks Connect business supporting the growth of e-commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a win-win model that increases convenience for consumers and efficiencies for online merchants and carriers.
“To gain the trust of consumers used to a home delivery proposition, it was vital that we partnered with a provider who understood the importance of the end-to-end customer experience. Doddle’s wealth of experience and proven track record with high profile retailers and carriers across the world made them the natural choice.”