In Part 2 of our June CoE E-Commerce panel, Going Digital: Offline Businesses Moving Online, moderator Omar Christidis of ArabNet, asks panelists Hassan Mikail of Aramex, Michael Trueschler of Citruss TV, and Alfonso De Gaetano of Google how to get reluctant offline businesses to have a useful presence online.
De Gaetano explains that companies which can’t generate specific leads online are the most reluctant to develop a website to showcase their goods or services. This is especially true for automotive and FMCG companies which generally sell offline. He explains that Google is hoping to provide more regional studies showing that consumer research online correlates directly to sales offline.
Trueschler discusses Citruss TV’s use of e-commerce, explaining that less than 10% of their sales happen through e-commerce. He notes, however, that online sales are increasing by 15% each month, a much higher growth rate than their sales via telephone. He explains that their major offline consumer demographic is married Arabic-speaking women with children. But online, he explains that younger tech-savvy consumers are purchasing electronic goods such as laptops and cameras.
Mikail adds that while e-commerce sales are still young in the MENA region, Aramex is trying to make it easier for startups to sell and ship their products from online. He explains that the percentage of online consumption from companies abroad still far exceeds e-purchases from companies in MENA.
The advice he would give is for startups to offer products that aren’t otherwise available anywhere else; have a niche.