The recent years have seen the expansion of internet connectivity and the proliferation of smartphones in the MENA region. As a result, the e-commerce industry is on the rise and customers are purchasing products and services online at an increasing rate. Did you know that smartphone penetration is more than 70% and more than 50% e-commerce is done through smartphones in MENA?
This shift from offline to online and then to mobile for shopping is a similar pattern seen in the mature e-commerce markets of the West. It is heading towards an explosion of growth in online spending. With the introduction of newer business models, online shoppers feel more confident in purchasing “shared economy” services like that of Airbnb and Uber.
E-commerce companies also offer customized/personalized goods and services which is driving the demand. In 2017, the MENA e-commerce market’s worth hit a staggering $8.3 billion. Its average annual growth rate is 25%, which shows that e-commerce in MENA is growing faster than the global average.
Here are some facts and stats that sum up consumer behavior and top e-commerce trends in MENA:
More than 30% of MENA e-commerce consumers shop online every month. 36% of the MENA shoppers are aged between 18 and 24 and 13% are aged 55 or above. But these numbers are changing quite fast. Did you know that 52% of MENA online shoppers tend to use social media channels to read product reviews and decide the products they want to buy? It is also true that 56% of the online shoppers in MENA use mobile devices for shopping online – which is leading e-commerce companies to optimize their content and e-stores for mobiles. There are several motivating factors for shoppers to buy online.
· Online shopping is very convenient as opposed to buying in the store. The customers don’t have to take out the time to drive to a particular location and purchase products when they can do that with a single click in the comfort of their homes.
· Customers have an opportunity for better product selection online. They can compare the products and compare prices on different websites for the same product.
· Often times, online shopping is cheaper than shopping in-store. E-commerce stores don’t have the overhead costs needed to manage a brick-and-mortar shop so they are able to offer discounts that online shoppers can enjoy.
It is important to point out that a successful e-commerce business is only possible with an impressive website and appealing content. The customers’ first point of contact with your business is through your website so you need to ensure that it makes the right impression. Online shoppers also feel more comfortable shopping online when websites are in their own languages.
Although customers purchase mostly all kinds of products online, there are distinct categories of products that take the lead. 54% of online shopping is done for movies, video games and books. While 48% is for products of health and beauty. 44% of shopping belongs to consumer electronics and computers, jewelry/watches and toys. 35% of shopping is for furniture and homeware while 31% is of household appliances. 27% of shopping is of grocery.
Shipping time is a very important consideration for an online shopper who usually exhibits impatience when it comes to purchasing online. Several e-commerce giants offer fast shopping with less than 4 business days. This gives the newbie e-stores a tough competition that has to figure out logistics and incur high costs for fast shipping.
80% of the online shopping in MENA is done using cash-on-delivery – which boosts the confidence of shoppers. Other payment methods offered by e-stores are bank transfers, credit card payments, Paypal and Skrill. But not all customers trust new websites and e-stores so they prefer cash on the delivery payment option and are willing to pay an extra fee for this service.
According to PayFort, the MENA e-commerce market is set to grow to $69 billion by 2020. If companies and organizations want to retain their retail success, it is imperative to go with the flow of the industry and keep updating with the newer trends.