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How to enter new markets via online shopping in the Middle East

Why is this important?
Businesses are increasingly searching for fresh geographic markets and innovative supply chains to sustain past growth performance, extend their existing seasonal product life cycles, and broaden their networks. They are looking to replace traditional bricks and mortar channels that limit their global reach and enter new markets via online shopping.
The Middle East and North African region is a lucrative destination because it has a burgeoning population, is flush with liquidity, and is rapidly adopting the latest in social media and e-commerce. This region’s internet users are expected to grow more than four folds and exceed 400 million by 2015.
What to do
Understand what this growth trend means
Growth isn’t uniform across the region. The Gulf Cooperation Council countries lead strongly with:

  • Internet- usage rates exceed 60%
  • Google - 100 million daily searches
  • Facebook - 36,000 new users daily
  • YouTube - 100 million videos are uploaded daily 
In this region there is a strong trend showing retailers are turning to online marketing as a shopping tool to manage customer expectations. More than simply choice, price and product availability, the focus is on speed, service, and experience and a definite sense of adventure.
Understand profiles and patterns of online shoppers
  • Just over half of the online shoppers are over 26 years old
  • 2/3 are male and 1/3 are female
  • ½ own a shopping card, but prefer to pay cash on delivery for their online purchases
  • ¾ (to date) of online buying is for physical goods
  • About 1/2 have previously purchased items over the internet in the last four weeks.
  • Just over ½ of the searches are in Arabic with the balance mainly in English. Indian and some European languages make up a small balance.
  • Main online purchases are for gaming, computer software, electronics, clothes, entertainment, accessories, home appliances, health and beauty, and food and drink. 
  • Better offers, easy product comparisons, wider ranges, reviews and other customers’ experiences, as well as wider payment options are important.
  • Focus on customer retention and expansion of the sales basket to reduce the cost of attracting additional new customers.
  • Offer genuine, recognisable branded products that customers know and trust.
  • Consider using social media to build your online image, profile and market position.
  • Think life wear, lifetime and value forever – build a ‘good to great’ ‘legend brand’ that ‘lasts’.

  • Ensure product quality, and before and after service, to command premium price.

  • Demonstrate your product’s every day price competitive advantage – use bundles, offers and exclusive ‘Hot Deals’ that immediately demonstrate value and create an immediate and memorable impression.
Service and marketing

  • Research your market. Get to know your target customer. Listen carefully and act promptly.
  • Exceed and surprise your customer expectations with service, ease of communication, speed, flexibility, and options.
  • Offer 100% satisfaction guarantee with free and easy reverse logistics.
  • Reward loyalty to encourage retention and repeat buying.

  • Build a strong, deep product range. Offer new, complementary and modern products.
  • Make repeat purchasing simple.

  • Keep the communication channels open. Tactfully handle difficult blogs and comments.
  • Collaborate and incentivise your online community so they will want to pass on referrals.

  • Become culturally attuned.
  • Personalise your approach e.g. felicitation messages during religious and festive occasions, VIP excusive member days etc.
  • Advertise and promote respectfully. Avoid cynicism, shock and offensive tactics.
Entering the Middle East online markets is not difficult, but it does require specialist assistance from organisations with experience and understanding of how business is really done internationally. Engaging with Australian Business Consulting & Solutions gives you access to professional advice, mentoring, briefings, and business partner identification, screening, introductions, market visits, licensing and professional legal advice.
If you are considering a business venture in the Gulf contact
Camil M. Gereis  Phone: +61 2 9458 7428  Mobile: +61 457 103 963
Fax: +61 9955 8914  Email: camil.gereis@australianbusiness.com.au  www.nswbusinesschamber.com.au | www.globalinsights.com.au

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