MENA E-commerce Series: Opportunity Beyond the Hype

Charbel Sarkis, Josette Ghorra, Tanmay Dhall, Cyrille Fabre, Anne-Laure Malauzat, Tahani Karrar / March 2019

E-commerce is advancing around the world, and the Middle East and North Africa is no different.

The retail industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is on the verge of a pivotal shift. E-commerce is becoming a reality, reinventing consumers’ path to purchase, forming new customer experiences, disrupting business models, and creating growth opportunities for large and small retailers as well as for a new generation of e-commerce pure players.

Prompted by a shortfall in regional e-commerce data and insights, Google and Bain & Company developed this white paper with the objective of supporting investors, entrepreneurs, retailers and other ecosystem stakeholders in decision making. The study assesses the current e-commerce market dynamics (on both the demand and supply sides) in MENA to inform the future outlook for the industry while examining various models of e-commerce development in other markets.

E-Commerce in MENA: Opportunity Beyond the Hype

There has never been a better time to be in e-commerce in MENA. The market is at $8.3 billion today and estimated to reach $28.5 billion by 2022. The region’s digitally savvy consumers are hungry for a broader online product selection and new shopping experiences. E-commerce is at the core of retailers’ strategies, and e-commerce pure players are expanding into new markets and product categories. The different elements of the e-commerce ecosystem—namely, payments and logistics—have come a long way despite the many remaining challenges.

Building on the strong momentum of the past couple of years, e-commerce enters a pivotal time in the region. The opportunity is significant for consumers, businesses, investors and ecosystem players.

Exponential or linear, the pace of growth will depend on how fast the three Ps—product selection, payments and product delivery—come together. When it comes to consumer Internet adoption and digital media investments, exponential growth has been a common theme in the region. Will history repeat itself?

Our MENA e-commerce series highlights new Google-Bain research in this field covering infrastructure, competition, user experience and online payments. Part 1 of our three part series covers the five major insights driving regional e-commerce such as the focus on electronics, beauty, fashion and grocery e-commerce. Part 2 delves into omnichannel and its growing importance for pure players as well as offline stores in MENA. Finally, Part 3 offers solutions for digital marketers looking to build a winning e-commerce strategy relevant for MENA.


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