E-commerce in the MENA region has grown and continues to grow at a rapid pace. In May 2013, Go-Gulf estimated that the value of e-commerce in the Middle East would reach 4.9 billion US dollars by 2015. Half-way through 2015, UAE based online retail specialist Awok.com aims for 25 percent of the retail space.
The UAE is leading the e-commerce sales growth of the total GCC market and that consumer electronics is the largest product category. Speaking on this, Awok.com’s CEO Ulugbek Yuldashev has the following predictions:
- The fast conversion of people buying in-store to e-store is something to watch out in near future. The electricity bill, maintenance staff, and salesmen alone all involve a significant financial commitment. In comparison, a dedicated group of online assistants are enough to run an online website for several places at once. And even where it’s convenient, it’s likely that e-commerce will change how people buy, transforming shops to places reserved for product demos.
- Mobile is the future. With everything available at your fingertips, one sees lots of retailers and businesses coming up with their personalized mobile apps and/or enhancing their mobile sites to provide optimum user experience
- Unreliable delivery is one major issue, which e-commerce companies are working on tirelessly. We can expect significant investment from e-businesses building up their own supply chain networks. This is an expensive bet, but one that will surely pay off.
- The one issue that all e-commerce setups face is fear from users on loss of control; call centres and customer support desks are the perfect solution for this. Budding e-commerce businesses would do well to setup dedicated customer support desks to ensure that their end-users always have a point of contact to reach out to. Customer lifetime value is integral to web commerce success and customer support centres are pre-requisites to that.
- The latest fascination with near field communication (NFC) could turn out to be a boon for the future of e-retailing markets. With NFC-enabled Google wallets, for example, one may simply tap and pay for an object of their choice. This innovative technology would promote the online shopping experience to the urban consumer, changing the way we shop forever.