For brands looking to stay competitive in the online market and succeed in rapid-growth areas such as the Middle East, it’s critical to adopt new strategies that account for the demographics and behavior of tech-savvy users.
As noted by Forbes, for example, 49 percent of UAE shoppers made cross-border purchases on mobile devices last year. Also worth noting? Sixty-four percent of the population in the UAE is under age 31, and in Saudi Arabia, 75 percent of the population is under age 35. The result is a customer base fluent in social media, comfortable making mobile purchases and loyal to brands that are responsive, flexible and make it easy to access products or services on demand.
What does this mean in practical terms for building out an e-commerce solution? The solution must be mobile-native rather than a duplicate of desktop websites — if elements don’t scale properly to fit mobile devices and expected functions are missing, users simply won’t bother.
Also critical is personalization. Brands must use e-commerce providers capable of showing users products that are available in their area and priced using their local currency. Providing incomplete or irrelevant pricing information or telling users after they put items in their shopping carts that delivery isn’t available is a good way to generate bad word of mouth.
The Middle East market also offers a master class in logistics. As noted by Forbes Middle East Technology contributor Dillip Rajagopal, “Logistics and transportation in the Middle Eastern region is still operating in traditional ways. The market is very fragmented with [a lot of current inefficiencies].” It makes sense: Transporting goods across multiple borders with varying documentation and notification processes is complicated at best and disastrous at worst. And with a recent PayPal study reporting that 49 percent of UAE shoppers are likely to cross-border shop, companies must find ways to both improve logistics visibility and lower total costs.
This means adopting mobile-enabled logistics solutions capable of managing the expensive “last mile” of the Middle East, which typically accounts for 28 to 32 percent of total logistics costs. By using mobility solutions capable of operating across 4G, 3G and 2G networks and storing data offline, it’s possible to obtain continuous updates about shipment positioning and inform customers about any delays in pickup, dropoff or cross-border delivery concerns.
Companies can’t afford to get left behind as the e-commerce market in areas like the Middle East expands exponentially. With e-commerce shops now going back to brick-and-mortar and luxury good vendors taking on the MENA market, it’s critical for brands to implement adaptable e-commerce solutions and embrace cutting-edge logistic partnerships to meet growing demand.