x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Shippers expect business bonanza

Shipping companies in the region are preparing for an online retail boom. Aramex has designated a team to focus on online retail and DHL recently brought its EasyShop service to the UAE.

Shipping companies in the region are preparing for an online retail boom. Aramex has designated a team to focus on online retail and DHL recently brought its EasyShop service to the UAE. "We've geared up the entire company, all the way from the top to bottom, to be ready for this boom," said Hassan Mikail, the e-commerce services manager for Aramex. In the decade since Aramex launched its Shop and Ship service, which helps regional consumers ship their purchases from online retailers in the US and the UK, business has grown by 50 per cent annually to more than 120,000 customers across the Middle East, Mr Mikail said. Six months ago, anticipating further growth, Aramex assigned a team to oversee e-commerce.

"Not a week goes by where we are not contacted by a new start-up that wants to work with Aramex to deliver the goods," Mr Mikail said. DHL launched EasyShop in the first quarter of last year to tap the growing numbers of residents in the region who were shopping in virtual stores, said Elliott Santon, the marketing manager for DHL in the UAE. The programme helps local consumers to ship their purchases from US online retailers.

"We have definitely seen an increase, particularly at seasonal times, such as at Christmas," he said. DHL expects local e-commerce to grow but is focusing on consumers who buy from overseas online retailers. Most goods offered online locally are available in the country's bricks-and-mortar stores as well, Mr Santon said. "There are more malls than you could shake a stick at, and a lot of these malls offer those goods." But Mr Mikail said most of the purchases shipped by Aramex came from the big e-tailers such as Amazon, but local retail shipments were increasing.

"We're really early ahead of the growth curve ? It's looking very promising and very rosy," he said. aligaya@thenational.ae