Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, in collaboration with eGrocery innovator Takeoff Technologies, launched an automated fulfilment centre at its Carrefour store in Jeddah’s Al-Sulaymaniyah. A first-of-its-kind in the Kingdom, the digitised storage picking facility automates managing orders, significantly reducing the processing time by up to 50%. Al-Sulaymaniyah is the first of two fulfilment centres to adopt advanced technologies and automation, with an additional centre set to open in 2022 to serve the capital, Riyadh.
The new centre’s team comprises 100 colleagues, including five Saudi female colleagues, who supervise the automated operations management. Spanning an area of 3,000 sqm, the centre can fulfil 2,000 orders per day, transported by 100 chilled vans.
The automated fulfilment centre was inaugurated during a visit by HE. Dr. Saleh bin Ali Al Turki, Mayor of Jeddah, and HE. Eng. Khaled bin A. Aziz Al Bakri, Undersecretary for Postal & Logistics Services at the Ministry of Telecommunications & Information Technology. They were accompanied by Alain Bejjani, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Holding, and Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail.
Today’s opening comes as part of Majid Al Futtaim’s ongoing contribution to the realisation of Saudi Vision 2030, particularly modernising the retail sector and building its digital infrastructure, bolstering digital transformation, and helping the sector to further contribute to the country’s GDP.
Communities served by Carrefour in Jeddah will find it more convenient to order online as a result of the newly implemented technology. Orders will now be automatically processed by a system that controls the storage facility, including a chilled section, a first for an automated fulfilment facility in the Kingdom.
Commenting on the launch, Hani Weiss, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Retail, said: “Digital transformation is a fundamental pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The private sector plays a vital role in shaping its goals and enabling Saudi society to reap the benefits of advanced technological solutions that have become integral to the way we work and live. Therefore today, we are pleased to announce Majid Al Futtaim’s latest adoption of the cutting-edge applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics to support the Kingdom’s efforts in this regard”.
“In partnership with Takeoff, the automated technologies and robots will help us fulfil customers’ orders faster while minimising human errors and utilising our colleagues’ skills to serve our customers better. As always, we remain focused on delivering exceptional value for our customers through every experience”, Weiss added.
Nalla Karunanithy, Chief Digital Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, added: “Automation is driving the retail industry forward, helping to keep up with shoppers’ demands for even faster service. As industry leaders, Carrefour is committed to adopting the most innovative technologies to enhance its operational efficiency. Today’s announcement demonstrates our drive to continuously develop our processes to better serve our customers.”
The Carrefour automated fulfilment centre utilises Artificial Intelligence (AI) to pick customers’ orders from the optimum storage location. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) assist human colleagues to retrieve items and maintain stock levels as products leave the facility. A dedicated inventory placement machine uses AI to allocate storage space for stock depending on each item’s popularity, drastically improving stock availability for orders. All orders are prepared within five minutes, cutting the average time between order placement and dispatch in half, guaranteeing that up to 200 accurate orders are sent out every hour to get products to customers in nearby communities on-time and in perfect condition.
In the wake of the pandemic, Carrefour KSA recorded a 285% increase in online sales in 2020, which led the company to accelerate its online growth plans. As a result, Majid Al Futtaim opened its biggest online Fulfilment Centre in Riyadh in a record six weeks and activated nine stores to fulfil online orders.