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Wed 8 Jul 2020 10:05 AM

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The future of postal services in the UAE

Emirates Post saw its business change in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as customers adopted digital and reduced-contact ways of accessing products and services, said Abdulla AlAshram, group CEO of Emirates Post

The future of postal services in the UAE

Abdulla M. AlAshram is Group CEO of Emirates Post Group Company.

It is not easy in this day and age to talk about the future of post. Not too long ago, the post office was a bastion of the local neighborhood – it brought people together but over the years, with digitisation and automation, we have seen a decline in the traditional postal model.

However, that does not mean that the postal services around the world, including Emirates Post, are going to be sacrificed at the altar of technology. On the contrary, for postal services around the world, the future presents numerous opportunities for diversification, innovation and growth.

Our future depends on paying heed to our customers, maintaining cost-efficiencies, increasing convenience and diversifying our product.

Business changes

We saw our businesses change in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as our customers adopted digital and reduced-contact ways of accessing products and services. Concurrently, we experienced a boost in last mile delivery as the spike in online shopping worldwide increased demand for standard and express services.

At Emirates Post, we are in the midst of a digital transformation process that helped us manage these two developments in a timely and adept manner. It reinforced the need for operational agility to adapt to new consumer needs as well as to perform our role as a vital service. 

Our new approach played a huge role in helping us implement contactless deliveries, over 800,000 of which have been completed since mid-March.

It also stood us in good stead as we ramped up our courier and last mile operations, boosting these workstreams. Like most postal systems around the world, Emirates Post is also a courier service provider.  

We registered a 45% growth in last mile delivery volumes in the first quarter of the year compared to Q4 2019 and have delivered close to 2m shipments to customers. As the volume of traditional correspondence like letters and documents decline, we are seeing this part of the postal business taking on a central role.

Big opportunity

E-commerce is already a big opportunity for us. Both domestic and international parcel volumes are increasing, and the average parcel size is reducing.

The postal and parcel sector’s supply chain is uniquely placed to excel at last mile deliveries. In addition, an increasing percentage of offline retail is converting to online or omni-channel retail and travel and transport hub cities, like Dubai, can draw volumes, which are not linked to domestic consumption and hence, promises consistent, year-round demand. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg and in the coming years we need to remain agile to respond to shifting consumer behaviour with efficiency and dexterity. According to a McKinsey report published in June the changes we are witnessing right now are not momentary but here to stay, so staying nimble and on our feet is critical to respond in the short-term and the long-term to a world in flux.

With the ever-expanding influence of technology, we are seeing our place and profitability increasingly link to other sectors as well. We are already working with regulators and players in finance and retail, as well as multiple regulatory and corporate stakeholders, to solidify our business proposition.

Our futures will be bolstered by laying foundations for constructive dialogue with brands and sectors, such as healthcare, telecom and travel. For instance, we are on track to introduce cold chain solutions by the end of the year and support the transportation of temperature sensitive shipments within the UAE.

So, this is where our future lies – as a facilitator, connector and pillar of the community.

As the world changes, we need to transform our business models to anticipate and thrive in a new operational landscape. As we learn to function within the new parameters of social distancing and contactless interactions, the postal system can play a huge role in helping communities navigate this new terrain as well as future scenarios using our unique position and resources, the vast array of talent at our disposal and our ever-expanding network.

Abdulla M. AlAshram is Group CEO of Emirates Post Group Company

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