THE LOGISTICS STORY
Nour Suliman, CEO of DHL Express MENA, speaks about the courier industry and how the rise of e-commerce has catalysed the growth of the segment.
Nour Suliman, CEO of DHL Express MENA, speaks about the courier industry and the rise of e-commerce that has been a catalyst to the growth of the segment.
In the last five years, e-commerce in Qatar has witnessed an estimated 40% year-on-year growth with forecasts to reach QR4.6 billion by 2015; this trend is set to continue with the presence of more internet users and the evident rise in SMEs establishing a presence in the market. Nour Suliman, CEO of DHL Express MENA, is banking on this segment as he sets sights on further growth for the courier segment.
DHL Qatar started with just one office in 1979 and is now present in 10 locations across the country with two more to open by the end of this year. “In terms of our operations, we have grown to over 50 dedicated couriers operating a 53-strong vehicle fleet covering the entire country. Our strong air network and connectivity also serve the local market through dedicated daily flights,” recollects Suliman.
Currently, DHL Qatar holds over 50% of the country's market share and is witnessing over 20% year-on-year growth in revenues. “The past decade has seen the country transform into an economic powerhouse with massive investments in infrastructure, hydrocarbon, telecom and logistics. Similarly, the growth of new-age industries such as e-commerce, and more recently m-commerce, and the surge in SMEs have all been a catalyst to DHL's thriving operations locally, with no signs of this slowing down,” he says confidently.
Is online shopping or e-commerce the main reason behind this growth in business?
Qatar's booming economy has sparked a rise in the country's e-commerce segment, which has been one of the most prominent changes witnessed by the logistics industry in the country and DHL has made sure to capitalise on this trend by studying the local market and presenting innovative products and solutions to maximise speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. As a result, DHL's penetration in the Qatari e-commerce segment currently stands at over 80%.
How much of your business growth is attributed to SMEs?
DHL's SME segment in Qatar has witnessed a significant jump in the last five years, and this is a reflection of the rise in smaller enterprises setting up in the local market. Our growth in this sector has experienced double digit numbers year-on-year, with many of our new customers outside the oil and gas industries.
We are confident this trend will continue as Qatar moves ahead with its vision to diversify its economy and encourage entrepreneurship.
What is your opinion on the SME sector in this market and how do you see this sector growing?
Small and medium-sized enterprises are increasingly becoming the backbone of Qatar's economy; the government is fully aware of the tremendous impact the smaller players can have on national growth and has invested in capital injection and a solid national ecosystem to help SMEs flourish; this comes at a time when focus on diversification is at a high and there is a conscious effort to move away from Qatar's dependence on oil and gas and embrace a more diverse, sustainable economic model.
Qatar is also focused on empowering its youth and building the next generation of private sector leaders to drive the economy forward. The government is continuously tapping into its dynamic, innovative pool of entrepreneurs to encourage start-ups in order to turn SMEs into the pillar of Qatar's economy of tomorrow.
The future for SMEs in Qatar is very bright; with the government's solid National Strategy 2030 and the huge economic investments currently taking place in the country, the opportunities for SMEs in Qatar are endless.
How can logistics help SMEs grow? What are the key challenges and opportunities?
In the globalised world, setting up shop locally is no longer enough for smaller players to succeed. International trade has become a vital component to the long-term survival of SMEs. This is where logistics comes into play.
Trading across borders can be a time-consuming, complex and risky business; issues such as cultural differences, high administrative costs and inadequate infrastructure can be daunting for smaller players. Logistics providers present solutions for small businesses and can grant them access to the world's biggest consumer markets, making it a fundamental part of their service and giving them an edge over the competition. We know that the right logistics partners can provide critical support in overcoming cultural barriers and infrastructure challenges while managing costs in order to compete.
With a booming GCC economy and increased trade volumes between the Gulf and key players in Africa and Asia, Qatari SMEs are perfectly situated to ride the wave and take their business beyond home borders. Similarly, foreign companies looking to tap into Qatar also require a helping hand. At DHL we have the localised market knowhow and a global infrastructure in place to help them achieve just that. Our strength as logistics leaders lies in our commitment to find solutions that make our customers' businesses more successful.
What are the next levels of innovation in this field?
Our aim is to set industry benchmarks and in order to do that we have to be innovative; innovation plays a big part in our global strategy which filters down to the individual markets; we are always in search of new and improved methods to enhance our operational capabilities and we adopt unique, cutting-edge-technologies to improve our speed and efficiency.
Our focus in Qatar is three-pronged; we are introducing new e-commerce tools to make shipping easier for our clients, especially SMEs; we are looking to develop SME-friendly solutions to help this budding sector flourish; and we are improving our track-and-trace systems to enable greater visibility on shipments. As an example, recently we updated all our facilities with the latest technologies and introduced electronic pods (e-pods) in Qatar and most Middle East markets, enabling customers to receive customised shipment tracking reports straight to their email or phone.
All this is further supported by continuous enhancements in our regional and global connectivity through new HUBs, route development and increased dedicated flights into Doha.
Qatar is a booming market, therefore we have to be proactive in our approach to innovation – it's all about monitoring industry trends, anticipating client needs and delivering the best service possible to exceed expectations and give them the best the market can offer.
What are your ground rules in leading the team in Doha? Your core values?
The ground rules are the same across all of DHL's markets; we always strive to stay ahead of the game and to do so we need to stay in top form. Our people are our top priority, if they are happy this is reflected in their work. Which is why some of our core values include making sure the team maintains a balance between work and family. ––This is not just a DHL Qatar approach; it's a corporate approach firmly embedded in the company's global values. This is what makes DHL the ‘employer of choice' across the world