Ecommerce sector in Mena booming, say experts

Ecommerce sector in Mena booming, say experts

The Mena region’s eCommerce sector accomplished almost six years of digital advancement in just six months as consumers shifted to online almost overnight with the pandemic accelerating that growth, said industry experts.

Delegates at the eCommerce Summit for the Mena region shared their predictions for future eCommerce trends in the Mena region and its fundamental role in business recovery and future growth of national economies.

Hosted by Visa and held virtually under the theme, “Thriving In The New Normal”, the event brought together government representatives from Dubai Economy (Dubai DED) and Saudi Ministry of Finance, local banks such as Commercial Bank of Qatar, businesses including Noon, Daraz (Alibaba Group), Azadea Group and Kidzapp, and payment platform providers to explore opportunities to further drive digital commerce and help businesses thrive in the new normal.

A survey published by the Dubai Economy, Dubai Police and Visa in June 2020, showed that since the outbreak, the majority (61%) of UAE consumers preferred online payments with cards or digital wallets over cash on delivery (COD).

A similar survey by Saudi Payment and Visa found that 62% of Saudi consumers opted for cards and digital wallets to pay instead of COD. The Kuwait Banking Association and Visa survey revealed 51% of Kuwait consumers used cards and digital wallets over COD.

The panel discussions highlighted the mainstream emergence of integrated commerce and the critical balance retailers will need to find between eCommerce and commerce IRL (in real life) to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

Visa's Back to Business Holiday Study in 2020 found that 45% of consumers polled in the UAE plan to do more than half of their shopping online while 34% plan to shop mostly in store or IRL . Panelists shared their experiences on new frictionless integrations merchants can introduce as part of their offerings such as curbside pickup and alternate contactless delivery options.

Point-of-sale payments and financing platforms are expected to undergo major transformation to ensure digital-first options become a preferred option, and use of digital wallets is also a rising trend for 2021, with the different modes representing tremendous potential across sectors that typically relied on in-person transactions.

Madhur Mehra, Mena Head of Merchant Sales and Acquiring at Visa, said:

“While most of 2020 was spent in reactive mode, the resulting preference for eCommerce is lasting. eCommerce leaders from the merchant community and financial institutions are in the driving seat in 2021 to capitalize on the momentum and continue to explore new technologies and innovations to support their customers.

Small businesses in particular now have the chance to expand digital presence of their business and expand the reach and sales not just to recover sooner but also capture future growth by investing in new digital technologies. Our studies show that merchants who adopted eCommerce in 2020 or invested in digital payment solutions were able to better survive the impact of the crisis than those that did not.

We work closely with the industry, leveraging Visa’s expertise, innovative digital solutions and analytics, to support them in understanding consumer behaviours and expectations. By collaborating with our panel of experts we continue to foster a supportive ecosystem for businesses to unlock new commerce opportunities and develop low-touch commerce solutions,” he added.

Mohammed Ali Rashed Lootah, CEO of Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector, Dubai Economy, said:

“A significant component of the shift in consumer behaviour we have been witnessing in Dubai over the past few months is a growing trust in cashless payments and buying online. Though driven largely by Covid-19 this shift has also proven to be one of the infinite and innovative opportunities Dubai estimated its transition to a Smart City to bring forth.

As the pandemic struck Dubai Economy spared no effort in encouraging consumers to shop safe, and in enhancing their confidence in the purchasing process, while also protecting businesses and enabling them to stay connected with their customers. In fact, everyone in Dubai and across the UAE, including the government and the local as well as global private sector, collaborated to present a successful and evolving digital solution to an unprecedented crisis, and the outcome is an accelerated transition towards a digital economy.

Dubai Economy is delighted to have Visa as our partners in promoting eCommerce as a competitive and convenient alternative, and we look forward to co-creating solutions that would empower Dubai and its community of residents and shoppers to thrive in the new normal,” he added.

– TradeArabia News Service

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