Akeed: Going Local Thinking Global

A lot has changed for Ahmed Al Balushi, a 23-year-old Omani student in the last six months. From just being a college student shuttling between assignments and classes, his hectic schedule now also involves around a part-time job with akeed delivery: Oman’s first food delivery app.

Speak to him and you will get an insight into his journey, “Times are changing. The country is rapidly advancing to a more global and open market. I am happy to play a part in shaping my country’s future by contributing and helping young Omani start-ups of today carve their presence in the market.”

His day at akeed begins right after he finishes college. Logging into the akeed captains app, he starts off his journey in his white Toyota with the red akeed bag as his companion. 

“It’s a fun way to acquire experience while studying. I love to drive and meet new people. This job allows me to do that, and moreover, the joy of working in a company that is made in Oman is different,” says Al Balushi.

Established in 2018, akeed delivery boasts of 84 such Omani youngsters working as captains in the company. An initiative started with the effective partnership of Europcar Oman, the company has hired 108 Omani captains out of 3000+ applications received over a month.

The idea is to hire Omani talent as much as possible to reach a point wherein the delivery sector is 100% Omanised.

“We worked very closely with Europcar Oman in the last one year. Our main objective was to filter out the right talent that is actively looking for gaining on-job experience while we give our customers top-notch service” said Moosa Al Lawati, co-founder and director akeed delivery.

Needless to say, the service and experience of customers with Omani captains has been ranked the best. “The feedback from customers has been always positive whenever an omani captain has embarked on any deliveries. The right training and selection have allowed us to provide this experience to our customers,” said Moosa Al Lawati.

Kickstarted with barely a 5 member team in 2018, akeed delivery now has over 300 employees, out of which operations and logistics hold a major chunk. “The company has expanded significantly, and it is a matter of pride for me when I see young omani’s like Ahmed playing a crucial part of this success story,” said Moosa Al Lawati.

He adds, “We want to hire several talented and hard-working people like Ahmed. Every young omani should be a proud brand ambassador of akeed delivery. That will be our ideal definition of made in Oman.”

Also marked as an essential service by the government during the peak of COVID-19, akeed delivery initiated several free delivery campaigns, to support and help the restaurants while bringing convenience to the customers.

Collaboration with Rahma association to distribute free meals for those in need along with the contactless delivery feature were some of the projects initiated by akeed delivery in the last six months.

“Our focus has always been to understand what the local market wants. Our customers and vendors are our brand ambassadors and we want them to help us make such crucial decisions,” said Moosa Al Lawati.

Geared up to soon launch akeed 2.0, the superior, revamped version of the app, Moosa added, “We are very excited to unveil our new app, which will match the global standards and features offered by international brands. It will be our first step to make Oman’s first delivery app beat the global international brands at home and abroad.”

COVID-19: Your next food delivery can be contactless

You don’t have to see or meet your food delivery guy when you order food but rest assured that food handling security measures in place are topnotch. This was the assurance of two of Oman’s biggest food delivery services in an email interview with Oman Observer.

With all commercial establishments ordered to be shut down and only restaurants and food servicing centers among those provided exemption to operate, Talabat and akeed’s food delivery services are becoming convenient household options and meteoric rise of demand for their service is predicted as COVID-19 measures are becoming more stringent.Isaac Banks, Communications, public affairs and corporate responsibility officer of Talabat, speaking on behalf of the company’s head honchos, said, “We’re going to roll out ‘contactless delivery’ in Oman over the next week. This means that as a customer, you will have the option of having the driver ring your doorbell, place your order by your door (please make sure to have a small table outside!), and they will practice social distancing, to make sure that both our driver and you are safe throughout the order process!”

He added, “We recommend this option, 100 percent of the time.”

Gaurav Nahar, Chief Executive Officer of akeed, said, “Our customers are aware of our online payment options and if they want a contactless delivery, they can mention in the driver instructions that they wanted such option.”Nahar said that once the instructions are placed, the driver will proceed with the process and leave the food parcels on the designated place you instructed them to leave them.Talabat is one of MENA’s biggest ordering platforms boasting more than 10,000 restaurants as their partners. akeed, which was launched in 2018, is the only Omani food delivery app that has grown to a fleet of over 400 driver-captains servicing around 1000 restaurant partners in the country.“We started noticing a surge in our orders and new customers from Sunday, March 15, when the Ministry advised people to stay indoors. We have noticed a 27 percent increase in our orders post the recent statements from Supreme Committee,” akeed head honcho Nahar said.For Talabat, “While we haven’t seen any trends so far, if there is any spike or trough, our operations have been structured in such a way that we will be able to handle the fluctuations in demand,” Banks said.

Banks added,  “It is too early to say anything meaningful on how this impacts our business and the sector overall. We see volumes changing but no spikes or trends so far.”

Food and driver security
“The fear around the virus is of course present, considering the massive spread COVID-19 patients have recorded all over the world but we are trying to educate and inform customers to remain calm and not worry. In all our communication to customers, we are emphasizing and assuring them about how our drivers are using sanitizers, gloves and masks to keep themselves and the customers safe,” Nahar said.

“First and foremost, the safety of our customers, riders and restaurant partners is our number one priority. Throughout the day we are in communication with our riders and they have the ability to directly reach out to us as well. We continue to provide them with safety equipment – for their peace of mind, so that when they are delivering orders, they know they are safe,” Banks said.

Banks added, “For us, we are working with the authorities to see what the new normal is like. In our Oman office, we will be switching to remote working next week, while our drivers will be continuing as per normal – with safety and protective equipment.”

He also said, “Our riders are wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, and they sanitize three times throughout the order process, once before picking up the order, once before dropping off the order, and right after delivery!”

As for akeed’s procedure, Nahar explained, “We have instructed our captains to report to their supervisor if they notice any symptoms of the virus. Also, driver hygiene is something we have always taken on high priority. It is, for this reason, we allow the customers to rate and review the driver so that we can monitor any red flags raised around a driver. A customer can see these ratings the moment the order gets picked up by the driver.”

He added, “We are trying our best to serve the customers and have requested them to stay safe at home. It is for this reason that we are working on a plan to introduce as many free deliveries offer as possible so that people can enjoy their favorite food from the comfort of their homes without feeling the pinch.”

“We really appreciate everything our riders do for our customers, and we know they are working as hard as they can in this current climate to provide the same amazing level of service and keep everyone safe as well!” Banks said.

To download akeed: //go.onelink.me/QCEU/ea391d54 (For both IOS+Android)

To download Talabat: //play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.talabat&hl=en