Next generation of delivery: An interview with Bassel El Koussa, Co-Founder of Quiqup

Quiqup, the UAE-based on-demand and same-day delivery startup, last month raised $5.5M in its latest Series B funding round, led by Delivery Hero and supported by strategic shareholders, Cedar MundiJOBI Capital, and Transmed.

Following the news, we spoke to Co-Founder and CEO, Bassel El Koussa to delve deeper into the startup, as well as his thoughts on new E-commerce trends, how the industry can be innovated, expectations on the future of last-mile, and much more.

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How does Quiqup work?

At Quiqup, we are creating the next generation of urban delivery business solutions to suit the ever-increasing demands of consumers. Businesses can either use our simple platform to book and track their deliveries or integrate with our API to retain full control of their customer experience.

We work with restaurants, retailers, and e-commerce businesses to fulfill their orders hyper-locally within the same hour or same day, combining real convenience with a delightful doorstep experience. Our service levels range from 30 minute delivery for restaurant deliveries to 4 hours or same-day delivery for e-commerce.

We use artificial intelligence to power a real-time neural network that is constantly learning and evolving to match supply and demand and make optimal dispatch decisions.

Our key differentiator lies in our operating model. We operate a decentralised fleet with couriers in constant motion responding to client requests in real-time leading to an unprecedented quick service at a reasonable price point.

 Did you experience a surge in usage following the COVID-19 crisis?

We saw a surge in overall volumes and a complete change in consumer behaviour. Grocery and pharmacy verticals benefited the most, followed by retail. On the other hand, our restaurant volumes decreased because people were spending more time at home cooking and not ordering their lunches at the workplace.

Thanks to our multi-vertical approach and technology, we were ideally placed for the changing landscape. We benefited from our efficiency and capability in utilising a shared fleet to provide delivery services throughout the day.

The most interesting trend for us post-COVID-19 is the increasing adoption we are seeing in the market. E-commerce is now top of mind for all retailers. As new retailers are getting online, they are realising the value of faster delivery time frames in acquiring and retaining their customers.

With the accelerated adoption of E-commerce in the region over the past year, what new trends have you seen, and do you believe they will remain? 

The surge in demand for home deliveries did normalise after movement restrictions were eased. What has not changed, is the consumer appetite for convenient and fast deliveries. We do believe that period has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and has educated consumers with a new convenient behaviour to shop online.

With the accelerated adoption of e-commerce trends, mature online retailers gained more market share, while retailers that were just transitioning online had a challenging time because they had to immediately refocus all their efforts on upgrading their delivery experience. The retailers that were not online had to start building their last-mile infrastructure to prevent catastrophic business impact.

What do you hope to see from the last-mile industry in the region over the coming year? 

I would like to see a more mature e-commerce ecosystem and the emergence of true omnichannel retailers where all inventory, whether located in warehouses or any physical store, is available online. This would involve physical stores evolving into quasi-micro fulfilment centers and an integrated touchpoint for the consumer’s purchase journey. For example, if a customer orders an item online which is available in a store close to them the item will be dispatched from the retailer store offering a truly on-demand service.

Consumers deserve a seamless experience between online and offline shopping with the flexibility to get it delivered when and where they want it. Under these conditions, the last-mile will really begin to flourish. I am very excited to be on the front lines, helping the region develop a world-class omnichannel experience.

Do you believe the industry can be innovated in terms of the implementation of drones/bots? 

I believe the industry will be innovated through the adoption of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) rather than UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles). The sky offers fewer obstacles, safer and more efficient routes compared to physical roads. The infrastructure around sky corridors met with the right kind of regulation will help get these technologies off the ground and facilitate faster last-mile deliveries and broader geographical reach.

Aside from capital, what else were you looking for from investors?

First and foremost we look for investors that are aligned with the values of our company and its culture. We also look for investors who are strategically aligned on common objectives for the vision of our organisation and have a deep understanding of the industry.

We also thrive on input from industry experts and disruptors. The recent joining of forces with Iyad Kamal is a great example; he is a true titan of industry and having him as an advisor has become one of our greatest assets.

Can you share some of your short-term plans for expansion with us?

We are planning to launch Abu Dhabi first with Saudi next on the roadmap. We are taking a strategic approach to reviewing and launching new cities, leveraging our existing client relationships and in many cases, responding to their demands for a faster, more reliable, technology-enabled, consumer experience which they have become accustomed to from us.

We are also looking to expand our same day proposition to be able to offer that service for clients looking to deliver to other emirates. This should be launched at the beginning of 2021.

What are your hopes for the future of Quiqup?

We are creating a truly unique model for the urban movement of goods. Our aim is for this to become an infrastructure that becomes part of the fabric of the cities we operate in. We would like to see Quiqup powering the development of the connected city across the region and being a real catalyst for the development of the e-commerce ecosystem.

What advice would you give to yourself five years ago?

The journey will be very tough at times. Always take a step back and see it as an evolving picture and it all becomes a lot more enjoyable. On that note, generally, have more fun.

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