ONGOING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Oman 2020 | TRANSPORT & AVIATION | INTERVIEW

A leading global logistics and transportation solutions providers, Aramex is looking at technology to improve its overall operational efficiency and customer experience.

Walid Fawaz
BIOGRAPHY

Walid Fawaz is the Country Manager for Oman at Aramex. With over 17 years of experience in the logistics and transportation solutions industry, he started his career at Aramex in Dubai with the customer management teams in 2002. He rose through the ranks from early days in sales to senior management positions. In 2007, he was promoted to sales manager. In 2009, he was managing Aramex's Jebel Ali Branch, which serves as the main hub for the region, which led him to the position as country manager—Qatar in 2011 and then country manager—Oman in 2019. He earned a bachelor's degree from the American University of Beirut, where he completed a strategic management and executive education program.

How are you seeking to adjust to the growth of the Omani logistics sector?
Oman, like the rest of the GCC countries, is working to diversify its economy. We see major investments in the non-hydrocarbon sector in general, and logistics specifically. Logistics sector in Oman is one of the key pillars of economic diversity with major government investments done towards its growth. Investments in road express networks, free zones, and ports target this vital sector's growth and regional competitiveness. As an industry leader, our focus in Oman for the next year will be on selected sectors and verticals such as e-commerce, healthcare, oil and gas, retail, banking and the industrial sector. Within this context, Aramex is investing in expanding its last-mile delivery fleet and ground operations including facilities and branch network, to cater to the surge in demand for its services and complement Oman Vision 2040.

The e-commerce market is growing fast in Oman. What is the impact on Aramex operations and what role can technology play in this regard?
The e-commerce industry is projected to witness a major growth in Oman, following a global trend and driven by a growing interest from Oman residents to shop online. Since Aramex is a leader in providing integrated solutions for e-commerce in the region and Oman, this growth affects us directly. To accommodate to the increasingly thriving e-commerce industry and to capture a major part of the e-commerce regional and global traffic, Aramex inaugurated a new operational facility in Muscat with in-house customs clearance solutions to enhance operational efficiencies and lower transit times. In addition, Aramex expanded its service center network to cover all major cities in Oman. Technology plays a major role in the overall operational efficiency and customer experience. Hence, Aramex has been investing in the latest technologies available in the industry to better service e-commerce customers, as well as transform itself into an innovative e-commerce solutions provider offering a revolutionary customer experience.

What role can technology play in streamlining your back office and ensuring last-mile delivery meets the standards and expectations of your customers?
Aramex is on an ongoing journey of digital transformation with a focus on enhancing the overall customer experience and further increasing our operational efficiencies. Organizational efficiency of our various departments is achieved through a number of digital investments and ERP enablement by the adoption of multiple digital tools. As for addressing the industry challenges in the last-mile delivery and in specific the growing customer expectation for e-commerce delivery, Aramex is investing in big data and machine learning that will improve delivery accuracy and solve the lack of proper physical addresses in the region by developing intelligent address prediction models through geo locations. Machine learning will also provide Aramex the ability to have accurate and instant delivery time predictions, using calculations based on seasonal volumes and capacity fluctuations. Aramex has upgraded its smartphone consumer app with multiple functionalities, including real-time map view with last-mile driver geo-tracking. We always aim to communicate with our customers through a cross-channel engagement tools to give them more power on controlling the delivery and pick-up time of their parcels at the nearest location. The upgraded app also offers our customers a safe pay tool with full payments breakdown, including customs charges.

What do you think of the regulatory authority in Oman, and do you see any gaps for further improvement?
TRA, Customs, and Royal Oman Police and Oman Aviation Group are all aligned in enhancing and improving the logistics sector in Oman. Processes, procedures and policies are developed and continuously evolve with emphasis on the growth and modernization of the logistics sector. Technology investments, be it customs systems and apps, have streamlined cargo and shipments movement, while in-house customs facilities have enhanced the integration with customs and increased the overall operational efficiency.