3 Steps to Seize Ecommerce Potential in the Middle East


Wednesday July 10, 2019 - Posted by:

Ecommerce businesses with their eyes on international expansion will already be well aware of the vast potential on offer in the Middle East.

This is a region where the ecommerce market is set to reach a value of $28.5 billion (£22.6 billion) by 2022, up from $8.3 billion this year, according to research by management consultancy Bain & Company focusing on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The report notes that consumers in this region are “digitally savvy, with the majority of their purchasing journey spent online, regardless of where they buy”.

With so much potential for growth and profitability in this part of the world over the coming years, as an ecommerce business you need clear strategies for connecting with your customers and differentiating yourself in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Here are three steps that could help your firm gain a foothold and expand in the Middle East.

Engage with Millennials

The millennial generation – typically characterised as those born between 1980 and 2000 – is a vital audience for any business hoping to succeed in the Middle East. Finding the most effective ways to engage and build relationships with members of this demographic is particularly important for international firms that want to take full advantage of ecommerce opportunities in the region.

Millennials account for a quarter of the population in the Middle East, and many members of this age group are becoming more affluent as private family wealth is handed down through the generations.

Research by HSBC has also revealed that 63 per cent of company owners in the Middle East are aged 35 or under, many of whom have become accustomed to the idea that succeeding in a globalised business landscape involves demanding schedules and irregular working hours.

“Hence, brands looking to attract and engage these consumers need to ensure they match the lifestyle,” advised luxury travel event organiser ILTM. “Advice needs to be immediate, transactions need to be seamless and services need to be 24/7.”

Leverage Social and Video Content

Social media is playing an increasingly significant role in the ecommerce sector in the Middle East, giving brands more opportunities to communicate with consumers, develop relationships and tap into the latest trends.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, more than half (54 per cent) of online shoppers completed a purchase via a social media site or app in 2018, according to recent figures from yStats.com. The report also predicted that ecommerce sales in the country will increase at an annual rate in the double digits between 2018 and 2022.

To take full advantage of the great potential of social media in the Middle East, you need to prepare by doing your research into how and where these platforms will be most effective. It’s also vital to have the necessary language capabilities to communicate with particular audiences in a way that feels relevant and appropriate on social channels.

The easy accessibility and fast-moving nature of social media goes hand-in-hand with video content, another segment of the digital ecosystem that is proving increasingly influential in the MENA region.

There has been a lot of research showing just how effective video can be to fuel engagement and drive conversions for ecommerce brands. The right combination of social media messaging and video content could take your business a long way towards sustainable success in the Middle East.

Reflect Local Needs and Priorities

The Middle East is a unique region that is defined by markets and audience segments that place very specific expectations on ecommerce brands. If you want to succeed in this part of the world, you need to tune in to local trends and priorities, particularly in the current era of rapid change and evolution fuelled by technology.

Recent research by McKinsey highlighted how Middle Eastern audiences are changing their buying behaviour, showing less brand loyalty and becoming more demanding. Specifically, consumers are looking for more convenience, more health-oriented options and locally sourced products.

Survey respondents in the United Arab Emirates estimated they had increased their internet spending by 31 per cent over the past year. More than six out of ten (62 per cent) cited convenience as the top factor for shifting their buying activity online.

In other trends, the UAE has been singled out as one of the top emerging markets for the luxury sector, while trends such as clean beauty and modest fashion are also having a bigger impact on consumer tastes and brand expectations.

To succeed in the Middle East and make the most of opportunities there, you need to understand your target markets and be properly equipped to communicate with your audience in a fully relevant, powerful way.

Find out how Locaria can help you achieve these goals by calling us on +44 (0)20 3948 6800, or request a quote online today.

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