The Middle East and North Africa’s one trillion-dollar retail market is passing through a transformation as eCommerce, or connected commerce (cCommerce), gained popularity and may serve up to 40 per cent of the retail spend and serve more than 20 million micro, small and medium-size enterprises in the region, according to a report.
Zbooni, Mena’s eCommerce platform, has launched the region’s first white paper on the growing sector and said businesses can register more sales by bringing the check-out experience to the channels that customers prefer and use every day.
Sharing insights from leading brands such as Chalhoub Group, checkout.com and TikTok, the research said cCommerce takes place via social, chat and messaging apps like WhatsApp, providing physical stores and online brands with a way of turning real-time conversations into converted sales.
Ramy Assaf, CEO and co-founder of Zbooni said Mena missed the initial wave of eCommerce and has been playing catch-up, but the region is geared-up to take full advantage of cCommerce.
“We are at the cusp of an exciting retail transformation built around personalised selling. cCommerce has the potential to serve businesses across a wide variety of industries, whether they are brick-and-mortar, online-only or omnichannel. Wherever there is an interaction before a transaction, cCommerce can help,” he said.
He said most people in Mena use social and chat apps frequently every day, and cCommerce is a natural evolution towards shopping in the same way we chat with friends.
“For businesses, it opens a whole new avenue for engaging customers and maximising sales. In this way, cCommerce could quickly surpass eCommerce, as the region’s preferred way of retailing,” he said.
The report focuses on the opportunity for cCommerce to connect businesses with customers, both online and offline. Zbooni collated proprietary data which suggests cCommerce has a sales conversion rate of more than 80 per cent, which is significantly higher than ecommerce marketplaces which tend to convert under three per cent of prospective sales.
Kamal Vachani, group director and partner of Al Maya Group, said digital media is one of the greatest tools to boost retail business in the region.
“We are living in the digital era and people feel more comfortable while placing online orders. Ecommerce or cCommerce have gained tremendous popularity during the pandemic and the similar trend is likely to continue in future,” Vachani told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.
“In this digital world people are getting used to of eCommerce and experience different online platforms to get the maximum benefits on their purchase,” he said.
Network International said eCommerce spending in the UAE grew at double the rate of point of sale (POS) transactions in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same quarter last year.
In its recent report, the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa said that the rise in online spending — which includes both debit card and credit card transactions — was led by digital payments in the government sector followed by restaurants, supermarkets and convenience
“As e-commerce sales continue to rise, it is evident that the growth in spending is coming not just from buyers shifting from physical outlets to online shopping, but rather from buyers shifting more of their spending from cash to digital,” said Ian Jiggens, group head, Advisory and Information Services, Network International.
cCommerce connects a merchant directly with the customer, and through human-to-human conversation an enhanced sales experience can be delivered and customer expectations met. This in turn helps to reduce sales friction, increase conversion and customer lifetime value, whilst reducing potential returns and refunds.
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