Ecommerce in the Middle East is expect to reach as much as $10bn by 2018 and is increasingly becoming a viable destination for cross-border trade, particularly for retailers who are able to capitalise on first mover advantage. The young, tech savvy population are calling out for wider product range and as millennials’ purchasing power increases, western products are more and more desirable.
Today we take a look at seven things you should know about the Middle East before you start selling in the region.
The Middle East is currently characterised by a young, dynamic and very tech savvy population, with buyers under 31 representing 73% of the overall online transactions in the region. Since this age group enjoys high personal disposable incomes, the average online basket value in the Middle East is one of the largest worldwide.
The Middle East has one of highest per capita internet penetration levels in the world and also enjoys high accessibility to mobile devices. By the end of 2016, mobile spending in the region is projected to grow by up to 40%, when it is set to be worth approximately $3bn.
As Arab shoppers are exposed to a limited product selection in local online stores, they are increasingly reaching out to foreign online retailers.
Currently, cross-border online trade makes up more than 10% of the total ecommerce industry in the region, and is growing at more than 70% year-on-year rate. Most online shopping is done with retailers from the US (35%), Asia (30%) and Europe (25%).
Looking for greater product range, variety of payment methods and secure online channels to shop on, Middle Eastern consumers are increasingly turning to online marketplaces.
Although online shopping in the region is still in its early days, the Middle East offers retailers a great number of marketplaces available locally. Currently, the leading marketplaces across the region are MarkaVIP, Namshi, JadoPado and Souq.
When selling in the Middle East, it is important to consider the language requirements for each region. The UAE has a wide English speaking community, so as a low level integration you can sell into the UAE without the need to translate your whole site. However, if you are selling into Saudi Arabia, Omar or Qatar, where Arabic is the national language, localising your content is crucial.
It is also important to show respect to the local culture, by creating advertisements that are friendly to the areas of society that are more conservative, or by offering special discounts during religious holidays like Ramadan.
As Middle Eastern consumers are very brand and quality conscious, when shopping online they are looking for luxury and flamboyance. As a result, high-end fashion and luxury items, such as jewellery and watches, are extremely popular in the region.
Reflecting the local culture, scarves, hijabs, long-sleeved pieces and more conservative garment lines are in a very high demand, however it is important not to localise your product offering too much because your brand will be seen as disingenuous. Young Middle Eastern consumers have similar tastes to Western consumers and want to purchase items they cannot find at home, so trade off your current catalogue.
Although Middle Eastern shoppers are quick to adopt online shopping, they are still very conservative when it comes to online payments. With up to 75% of all local online transactions currently being cash-on-delivery, providing this payment option is highly important to shoppers in the region.
In addition, having an Arab speaker ready to take calls and answer questions from customers new to online shopping, is also something you need to be aware of when expanding your online activities into the Middle East.
To discover more about the opportunities of selling into the Middle East, get in touch with our friendly team today!
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