Ecommerce Opportunities: Middle East and North Africa

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Ecommerce Opportunities: Middle East and North Africa

Looking for international ecommerce opportunities? With improving global internet penetration rates, increasing trust in online sales and more demand for internet retail solutions, the future looks bright for the ecommerce sector. A new report by Visa suggests ‘e-tailers’ should set their sights on the Middle East as the e-commerce market is predicted to boom there in the next few years.

According to ArabianBusiness.com, a report that was recently issued by payment solutions provider Visa Incorporated revealed that the Middle East and North Africa (also known as the MENA region) is the fastest growing region with regards to e-commerce. Based on data collected in 2012 the report estimated that the MENA region experienced a 45% increase compared to 2011.This meant a growth from $10 to $15 billion in 2012.

AME info notes that the MENA region has long been passed over by retailers as no data about the market was available. The potential thus wasn’t clear to e-commerce companies, but now that there is data available and the figures turn out to be very positive, this will soon change.

If you consider that internet usage in the MENA region has grown 1,500% from 2000 to 2010, the outcome of the report comes as no surprise. Visa is very keen on making e-commerce available worldwide. Ihab Ayoub, general manager at Visa for the Middle East and North Africa: “Visa has been a pioneer in e-commerce and has always strived to make it safe, reliable and convenient. Through initiatives such as this, Visa is continuing to support and drive the e-commerce industry across the Middle East.”

However, ArabianBusiness.com says that Visa also stated that growing sales come with a higher concern about security. This should not be overlooked by retailers. Ayoub: “E-commerce is one of the key drivers for the economy in today’s closely connected global environment, and is rapidly expanding here in the GCC. But rapid growth also means that both individuals and business organisations will have a natural level of concern about the security of online transactions.”

Ayaz Maqbool also believes the internet is one of the main reasons for the speedy growth of e-commerce in the region. Maqbool, managing director of Tejuri.com, the first online shopping mall in the MENA region and also one of Visa’s local e-commerce partners, says that “The region has witnessed a significant increase in internet usage and it comes as no surprise that the internet is quickly becoming the cornerstone for business and communication.”

The report was founded on data by the Interactive Media in Retail Group, a United Kingdom body for e-Retail. The outcome of the study does not come as a surprise: another article on ArabianBusiness.com of February this year revealed that Euromonitor International estimated that internet retail sales will grow by 95% in the UAE in the next five years. This growth is driven by the fact that consumers in the UAE are getting more and more sophisticated. In addition, they are feeling more confident about the quality of products that are offered online and the speedy delivery of the products is a very attractive feature of online retail.

Ayman Ghanam, who is a research analyst at Euromonitor, explains: “The internet, despite its comparatively low usage penetration, has already played a significant part in the Arab Spring and as a result the Middle East is expected to see massive growth. This trend will be encouraged by the growing usage of credit cards as consumers become more comfortable with buying online” As more than 170 million Arabs will have access to the internet in 2016, Ghanam believes e-commerce in the UAE region is likely to sky-rocket in the years to come.

So, how does that sound for an ecommerce opportunity? If your company is planning on expanding into the MENA region, let us know how we can assist you. With an office in Dubai, a world class Arabic translation service and full online localization services including ecommerce localization and translation, we can get you online and selling in no time!

Katia Reed
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