How Dubai delivery app Fetchr works

Fetchr is a new app that gets packages and letters to people in Dubai without the need of a physical address

Area Guides

New delivery app Fetchr allows both the community and businesses to send or receive anything, anywhere, in the Middle East. E-commerce retailers can set up a scheduled delivery by simply using a customer’s mobile phone’s GPS co-ordinates, thereby aiming to consistently deliver to the correct location. It also allows individuals to set up a scheduled pick-up of an item they want to ship. All they have to do is take a photograph of the item they wish to send and indicate a collection time within a 30-minute window – doing away with frustrating and confusing, landmark-based directions given over the phone. Developed by two e-commerce entrepreneurs, the easy-to-use logistics app has raised US$11 million (Dhs40 million) in funding to get the region’s packages on the move. We meet its co-founders, Idriss Al Rifai and Joy Ajlouny, to find out how the app is delivering on its promise.

Why Does Dubai need Fetchr?
We were facing several issues regarding delivery and shipping to this region. When I had my e-commerce business, I tried all the delivery services including FedEx and UPS, but a lot of packages were sent back to me in the US, with a note saying ‘we can’t find the customers’. It’s frustrating that some places have no physical address. I came to realise that companies were delivering by literally sending the driver out with a piece of paper containing telephone numbers to call the customers one at a time. So it’s no wonder they can’t find the addresses. They’re relying on a phone call to deliver packages. That’s when Idriss and I began speaking about how we could solve this problem and he came up with this app.

Why does your system work where others don’t?
We use the customer’s mobile phone number to deliver packages using its GPS location, very much like how Uber locates a customer to pick them up. Our technology is a little more intricate, as we use phone numbers for both the pick-up and delivery locations. The sender also gets notifications once the package has been delivered.

How quickly can you deliver stuff for me?
We’re aiming for same-day delivery because when you buy a product, you want it quickly. We also noticed that there is a much lower return rate if customers get their goods faster. If they get their package one week or ten days after they bought it online, they’re likely to forget about it. We also take cash on delivery, so there is no penalty if the customer changes their mind.

How much will you charge me?
It starts from Dhs30 to ship anything anywhere in the UAE. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small company or an individual. If you are at home, you take a picture, you press submit we put it in our server. Our driver will then pick up the package and deliver it the next day.

Is Fetchr compatible with the new Makani system that Dubai Municipality has introduced?
Makani is interesting, but it has only been introduced in Dubai, not across the whole of the UAE, which is a bit of an issue. Makani solves the problem of the no address system. But in a world where everybody moves and people want to receive things on the go, we don’t want to know where you live, we just want to know where you want the package to be delivered. It’s the only thing that matters.

So, the important question – if I want you to deliver a cake I’ve baked for my friend, can you do it?
We can certainly deliver a cake. The sensitivity of the product would need to be highlighted from the start and we’d use the ‘bullet’ service direct from sender to receiver.
Fetchr is available for free on iPhone and Android.

Two more delivery apps to try

Aramex Mobile
A companion to the website, this app allows customers to track their packages.
Free. Available on iPhone and Android.

Sharjah Postal Code
This is Sharjah Urban Planning Council’s first initiative to offer residents a postal code for deliveries and to help emergency services locate residences.
Free. Available on iPhone and Android.

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