A Growing E-Commerce Opportunity in MENA

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In a recent study, eMarketer estimates that while the Middle East and Africa is still the least developed region in e-commerce, sales in the region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world, showcasing a promising opportunity for innovators to take advantage of the expanding market.

By a margin of almost 10 percentage points, eMArketer estimates that business-to-consumer e-commerce sales in the Middle East and Africa are growing faster than any other region. This growth has been undercut by a relatively low spending base of only $20.61 billion in 2012 compared to the next lowest spending figure of $36.82 billion in Latin America.

Due primarily to a low number of internet users and the high cost of broadband internet, as well as a lack of awareness or familiarity with online shopping, the market has been largely underdeveloped. Compounding these issues, eMArketer points out a lack of stable online payment systems and low credit card usage among consumers in the region.

Challenging these limitations, such startups have found a way to create thriving e-commerce business models unique to the region.

Startups such as Namshi, ShopGo, and MarkaVIP are working to educate MENA consumers about e-commerce, building awareness about the potential of e-commerce services to transform retail shopping in the region. These figures present an opportunity for these and other innovators to build on the expanding potential of a market that continues to growing rapidly despite technical limitations.

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