By Startup Scene - Image Credit: MO4Network
The last six months have been abuzz with activity in the e-commerce sector in the Middle East, with up-and-coming startups raising seed rounds and massive funds flowing into the region’s big players. In the past week online, Tunisian fashion platform Dabchy raised a $44,700 seed investment, while Kuwaiti Nalbes snagged a massive $1.5 million and Alshaya - one of the region’s largest franchise operators - acquired a stake in Noon, the billion-dollar e-commerce portal backed by Saudi Investment Fund and real-estate tycoon Mohamed Alabbar that is set to launch by the end of the year.
Indeed, according to Magnitt’s investment report on the first half of 2017, e-commerce is the fastest growing sector in the region, concentrating 16 percent of the $290 million invested across 8 disclosed deals. Now, a new report indicates that by 2020, the market is set to more than double and reach $69 billion. The report, released by PayFort, indicates that the UAE, estimated at $27 billion, will lead the charge, followed by Saudi Arabia, at $22 billion. The findings were announced at the SAP Hybris Customer Engagement Symposium, held last September 13th in Dubai, where regional innovators exchanged best practices in using e-commerce and digital marketing.
The event awarded innovative enterprises, such as Saudi engineering and construction firm Alfanar, which won “Cloud Champion of the Year,” and Sharjah Cooperative Society, who took home the “Grocery Commerce Excellence,” prize, and Virgin Megastore MENA, which won the “Outstanding Omni-Channel” award.
The $2 billion Saudi engineering and construction firm alfanar uses e-commerce for its 3,000 wholesalers, reducing servicing time by 40 percent and increasing customer satisfaction. “Real-time customer insights have been a game-changer for Alfanar’s business and customers. We can now send technicians with tablets instantly following customer notifications, who have greater insights on our resource planning and management, and can better predict product demand,” said Raed Suhil Aleid, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Alfanar Electrical Division.
“Middle East market businesses are racing towards the most meaningful and rewarding customer experience. Combining omni-channel commerce with digital marketing, sales, service and revenue management is no longer a luxury. Organisations can compete effectively by meeting their customer needs in a mobile, personalised, and intelligent interaction, anywhere, anytime, and at any touch point in their journey,” said Sam Alkharrat, Global Chief Operating Officer for SAP Hybris.