What’s driving the e-commerce industry in the MENA region? What’s driving the e-commerce industry in the MENA region?
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What’s driving the e-commerce industry: consumer behaviour or digital innovations?

What’s driving the e-commerce industry: consumer behaviour or digital innovations?

More than ever, consumers now want fast, on-time and flexible delivery solutions, with the option of easy returns

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FedEx insights on e-commerce

Digitisation is at the heart of the e-commerce market today, with consumers being the driving force behind its growing importance.

Retail trade, being one of the largest drivers of e-commerce today, gives consumers a way to shop for goods that are convenient and available on the go. It’s clearer every day that customers are placing greater emphasis on the experience while shopping online. Around 91 per cent of customers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have become digital converts since the pandemic and intend to continue buying online. With this trend, it’s predicted that MENA’s e-commerce sales would reach $50bn in 2022, up from $32 billion last year.

Over the past decade, MENA’s e-commerce market has been steadily growing, facilitated by the development of the region’s e-commerce ecosystem, well-developed logistics infrastructure, and consumer trust in digital payment channels. The recent rapid expansion of the sector, driven by Covid-19, presents new opportunities for retailers.

With lockdowns in place during the peak of the pandemic, many shoppers across the MENA region turned to digital channels to access the goods they needed, with groceries and electronics among some of the fastest growing categories. With today’s resilient logistics sector, research suggests that online shopping habits are here to stay, as more consumers are inclined to purchase their goods over the internet – even after the pandemic.

The rapid adoption of online shopping has permanently altered the face of retail. Some businesses that were heavily invested in physical stores had to close their outlets or cease operations entirely. As consumers shop less in-store and more online, expectations about the shopping experience too, are now changing. A recent PWC consumer insights survey revealed that fast and reliable delivery remains the second most important factor for purchase decisions, after price.

In this increasingly fast-changing, challenging, and competitive environment, where consumers’ expectations are high, it’s important that retailers and brands invest in a strong e-commerce strategy, supported by efficient logistics solutions to deliver success. More than ever, consumers now want fast, on-time and flexible delivery solutions, with the option of easy returns. While guaranteeing on-time deliveries to customers is often one of the biggest challenges facing e-commerce businesses, it’s also a key area where they can gain a competitive advantage by working with the right logistics provider.

Today, digitalisation is one of the best methods to ensure fast and reliable delivery services. With innovative tracking solutions, retailers and consumers benefit from timely updates on their packages and control over the delivery of their goods. By offering greater transparency, flexibility, and convenience, tracking is a sure way to win consumers’ confidence while improving efficiencies.

The digital transformation of the logistics sector, which includes digitised processes for customs documentation, can help e-commerce businesses streamline lengthy or complex paperwork procedures. Meanwhile, new technologies designed to improve efficiencies throughout the logistics centre, including self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence, data analytics, robotics, and drones, continue to offer new and revolutionary ways to further enhance the delivery process.

Brands and retailers that can leverage these tools to advance their delivery services will gain the trust of their customers. To capitalise on the growing momentum of the e-commerce market, businesses should work closely with their logistics providers that offer advanced technological solutions to ensure reliable and fast delivery services in this competitive market. In addition, businesses must also embrace changing consumer behaviour and meet the demand for on-time, flexible, and reliable delivery services.

Taarek Hinedi is the vice president of FedEx Express Middle East and Africa Operations

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