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Exclusive: The impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector – Amazon.ae Q & A

AMEinfo has conducted a series of interviews with notable regional and international tech companies of different sizes. In this article, we speak with Amazon MENA.

Amazon.ae has adapted to business under COVID-19, with new practices such as "deliveries that can be left unattended, deliveries placed on the doorstep with associates maintaining a safe distance, and removing requirements for customer signatures at the time of delivery" "For now, we are focusing on supporting the community and providing people with the products they need as they stay safe at home while also safeguarding our associates and operations network" "Every team is different and not all jobs are conducive to working from home. We've implemented a series of preventative health measures at our sites around the world to help keep our employees, partners, and customers safe"

Today, no business has been spared the backlash from the global coronavirus pandemic. Entire industries have been brought to heel – massive industries like the hospitality sector, travel sector and even the oil sector.

So, in an effort to try and assess the situation across the affected sectors and businesses, AMEinfo has conducted a series of interviews with notable regional and international tech companies of different sizes. In this article, we speak with Ronaldo Mouchawar, Vice President of Amazon MENA and Co-Founder of SOUQ.com.

Make sure to click on the #COVID19Tech tag to access all the articles in this series.

Q & A with Ronaldo Mouchawar, Vice President of Amazon MENA and Co-Founder of SOUQ.com

How has the pandemic and remote working affected your daily operations in terms of sales, delivery, supply and workforce. And what has the company’s experience with remote working been like so far?

Amazon recommended as of mid-March that corporate office employees who work in a role that can be done from home should do so through April 24. Every team is different and not all jobs are conductive to working from home. In fact, much of our work cannot be done from home, but safety comes first. With guidance from local health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Prevention, we’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures at our sites around the world to help keep our employees, partners, and customers safe.

For example, we have implemented a number of measures to ensure safe deliveries and return pick-ups to and from customers. These include deliveries that can be left unattended, deliveries placed on the doorstep with associates maintaining a safe distance and removing requirements for customer signatures at the time of delivery. The pick-up process of returned items also follows these same measures.  Customers can use ePay methods for contactless deliveries. We have also increased cleaning at all facilities and ensure all employees maintain social distance in the fulfillment centre.

For more information, please see the link here to learn how Amazon is taking care of their employees during COVID-19.

What are your short-to-midterm and long-term plans plans to address issues arising due to the global lockdown? What will the long-term impact of the pandemic be on your company and your sector?

We are monitoring closely how the situation evolves. For now, we are focusing on supporting the community and providing people with the products they need as they stay safe at home while also safeguarding our associates and operations network.

Looking at a future after the pandemic, what are your essential takeaways from the crisis and how will they reshape your business/operating model going forward?

While the long term social, economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 virus are still unknown, these incredibly difficult times are an important reminder that what we do as a company can make a big difference in people’s lives. Customers count on us to be there, and we are fortunate to be able to help. With our scale and ability to innovate quickly, Amazon can make a positive impact and be an organizing force for progress.

What are the categories that witnessed the largest demand during the last period?

We have seen a big surge in items related to COVID-19 outbreak. Specifically, grocery related categories, such food, disinfectants, sanitizers, and house cleaning products. We have also seen purchases increase in lifestyle categories including kitchen, appliances, toys, and sports categories. This reflects the change happening around working, studying and staying at home. We are working hard with our selling partners to ensure that these products are available safely into the hands of our customers.

How is Amazon supporting its selling partners in these times? 

We understand the impact that COVID-19 has had on many of our Selling Partners. We do all we can to enable them to sell online and meet the growing demand from customers at these difficult times. We support the Selling Partners by providing shipping services, regular updates and guidance via direct communication channels, holding online webinars and relaxing our policies around shipping metrics.

Read: Exclusive: The impact of COVID-19 on the tech sector – Huawei Q & A