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E-commerce fulfilment in the Gulf Cooperation Council

Alotaibi, Mohammed; Grant, David; Williams, Terry


Mohammed Alotaibi

David Grant


Paper delivered at the 21st Logistics Research Network annual conference 2016, 7th-9th September 2016, Hull. Abstract: Purpose: This paper reports on an exploratory study of electronic commerce fulfilment (ECF) in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) markets based on three objectives: effective and efficient operations, a local and global purchase approach using reverse logistics processes, and consideration of cultural factors particular to the GCC countries including differences between small and large cities. Research Approach: There has not been much logistics and supply chain research in the Middle East in general, and the GCC countries in particular. Thus, this study used a qualitative approach to obtain respondent perspectives regarding e-commerce logistics, whether pure player and multi-channel, grocery or non-food, local or global third-party logistics companies (3PLs), or consumers to reflect a suitable model that could fit and help firms in GCC countries develop an online market. One of the cultural factors related to Arabic managers and owners preferring to speak rather than complete surveys or write, hence 55 interviews were conducted with 27 e-commerce firms, 10 3PLs and 18 consumers (men and women equally). Findings and Originality: This study found a lack of communication between e-commerce firms and 3PLs. However, despite this issue 3PLs were focussed more on business-to-business (B2B) activities and relationships rather than business to consumer (B2C). Local 3PLs firms have achieved some success by providing services regionally, with global 3PLs having an advantage in importing and then using local drivers for fast deliveries. Cash on delivery (COD), trust, policy and warehouse management emerged as major issues affecting e-fulfilment with a small scale of satisfaction in small countries like Bahrain and Kuwait and small cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Research Impact: This research enhances the logistics literature through presenting an in-depth study covering aspects of e-commerce in the GCC. Further, the study indicates that 3PLs will have to provide different types of services in these markets e.g. depending on whether they are working under global strategies in UAE or under agents in KSA. Finally, findings related to cultural factors in both business and consumer settings are important for e-commerce firms and 3PLs to consider in this marketplace. Practical Impact: This study investigated electronic commerce fulfilment (ECF) in the GCC, including pure-player and multi-channel e-retailers or Internet firms and global and local 3PL service providers, and provides guidance for all of them regarding the right factors for successful ECF in the GCC, including understanding policy regulation regarding global firms, helping local firms to become aware of the importance of logistic systems and their effectiveness, and dealing with consumer behaviours based on cultural factors.


Alotaibi, M., Grant, D., & Williams, T. E-commerce fulfilment in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Deposit Date Nov 24, 2016
Journal Proceedings of the 21st logistics research network annual conference 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords e-commerce, e-fulfilment, Gulf Cooperation Council, Logistics
Public URL
Publisher URL The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport website is available at


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