Online Transactions in Levant Total $4 Billion, to Grow at 25% as Consumer Behavior Changes

Beirut, February 17, 2014: The MENA region is the fastest growing e-commerce region in the world, with online shopping reaching $1 billion and online transactions totaling a stellar $15 billion (1) --a 45% YoY increase (2).

Omar Soudoudi, Managing Director at Payfort, says that e-commerce growth will remain at 25%, higher than any other region worldwide. According to Omar, the biggest opportunity in e-commerce in 2014 is directed towards mobile. “Currently, m-transactions represent 10% of total e-commerce spending, but it is expected to grow by almost 20% by 2015,” says Omar.

Egypt, in particular, is dominating the e-commerce landscape in the Levant region in both online and cash-on-delivery payments, as Omar reveals: “Egypt represents the second largest market for online transactions in the MENA region with $3.1 billion USD. The remaining Levant region makes up around $0.8 billion USD.”

These remarkable numbers in online transactions point to fundamental changes in consumer behavior in the region. “Users who were previously unwilling to pay online in the Middle East are now finding it easier to pay online and their attitudes are changing. This has led to a spur in online stores both in Egypt and in other GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia. We haven’t quite reached the mature markets of the UK and USA. We are still more at the ROPO stage (Research online, purchase offline) stage,” says Mahamad Tanahy, founder of Bright Creations.

The opportunity was not overlooked by passionate entrepreneurs wanting a piece of the pie. In the past couple of years, a growing number of e-commerce platforms emerged in the region. Wamli and Desado are two of these e-commerce platforms, launched in late 2012. Both platforms offer traditional line of products alongside more, unconventional ones, and were quick to achieve regional and global successes. Today, Wamli answers to an international customer base with a shipping time not exceeding 7 days, and last summer Desado secured an investment from iMENA Holdings with its winning business model.

Rabih Ghandour and Muhammad Chbib, CEOs and founders of Wamli and Desado, respectively, will join other industry experts to discuss e-marketing and e-commerce in the luxury and fashion sectors at ArabNet Beirut 2014, taking place on March 4-6 at Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel. Other exciting sessions that will be explored during the three-day event include a series of case studies on social media marketing, two panels on startup and investment trends, and much more. The conference will also include ArabNet’s signature competitions, the Ideathon and the Startup Demo, as well as the Creative Combat, which aim to highlight emerging regional talents in the digital sphere.

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