I had earlier covered the growth of talabat Mart while they expanded during 2020. This time, I’m here to dive deeper into its inner workings and to put faces behind their Qatar operations. Talabat Mart works in a similar fashion across markets where they have a presence.
Nobody thought that online grocery shopping would become a new norm across the Middle East region. You have to thank the COVID-19 pandemic for disrupting the status quo, and then others joining the success bandwagon.
While I was given the chance to see how it’s done in Qatar, talabat Mart operates in a similar manner across other markets but tailored to each one on a local level. Without much waiting, let’s dive in…
Faces behind talabat
Most people in Qatar would already know Francisco Miguel Sousa, since he was one of the inaugural LinkedIn Top Voices lists for the GCC region for 2019. So it was an honour to have him assemble the puzzle pieces on talabat Mart, accompanied by Karyn Jallad (Senior Manager of Communications at talabat Qatar).
I’m indebted to these two for giving me the opportunity of filming just how they keep the dark stores stocked and the pace at which orders are fulfilled.
You may think that it’s a large-scale multinational operation, but the entire setup and implementation was done locally in Qatar with no physical involvement from other talabat offices. Quite an undertaking, especially when it took place during the pandemic that had restrictions implemented by the health authorities.
Even with all these challenges, the core team that overseas talabat Mart every day comes down to five people:
- Supun S. Vithanage, Demand Planning Specialist
- Arjeet Agarwal, Senior Operations Manager
- Marie Luce, Category Manager
- Rabih Ghannam, Category Manager
- and all of the above report to Bader Al Ghanim, GM of tmart covering Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar
These five handle everything you could imagine for talabat Mart
- Finding out what people are ordering to ensure there’s sufficient stock for items,
- Seeing what new products to stock for customers to buy based on market trends,
- Overseeing the operations to ensure efficiency across multiple locations,
- Forecasting potential demand for current and new products,
- Negotiating and ordering from various external suppliers,
- and more.
Multiply the above by the six dark stores for talabat Mart in Doha alone, helping to cover the large metro area in ensuring quick deliveries. This team of four works to improve and adapt talabat Mart everyday.
For Bader, add three countries to the mix with the respective local teams in Kuwait and Bahrain. Now you can imagine the scale.
What’s inside the talabat Mart dark stores?
Don’t imagine a large warehouse-like Amazon. Majority of the items are perishables, and that would defeat the purpose of what talabat set out to achieve. Walking around is almost like being in a supermarket, except you can’t just walk into one of these dark stores.
Aisle walkways are narrow to help accommodate more items. That also makes them one way, which is faster when moving from one aisle to another. Items are arranged to make it easy and fast for the staff to walk around and collect for every order.
Every category of items that you would find in a hypermarket or supermarket (maybe not all but the popular and essential ones) are available for order. Cold perishables like frozen meats, dairy products and desserts are kept nearer to the entrance (best to save them for last).
The working staff carry special mobile devices with them, beeping loud whenever an order is placed from nearby. Each order has to be packed in less than three minutes, before they’re ready to be collected and delivered. The clock ticks when the handheld beeps with a new order.
Order to collection for delivery
I witnessed one order come in as they darted from one section to another, packing the trolley with scanned items. The order was packed in 2:25 with time to spare. Makes a good practice for anyone planning to compete in a marathon.
If orders will span multiple bags, each bag is labeled with the unique order ID to identify them. They’re all placed neatly near the entrance, making it easier for the riders to collect for delivery.
Be honest, you were expecting something on the same magnitude of Amazon’s online shopping. Well, I’ll leave you to judge whether you walk
Beyond just the standard grocery deliveries, talabat has even taken on bolder ventures. Starting with exports of ‘Made in Qatar’ items to other countries within the region and even selling non-standard items like football kits from QFA, it’s clear talabat is aiming to disrupt things when opportunities arise.
But to see all these words come to life, you’ll need to wait for the final video. The video will be worthwhile for viewers to really see and appreciate the work of talabat Mart.