MENA E-commerce Series 2018 Part 3: How to create a winning e-marketing strategy

Tahani Karrar / January 2019

In Parts 1 and 2 of our MENA E-commerce Series 2018, we covered the five main insights driving e-commerce in the region and delved into the growing importance of omnichannel for pure players as well as offline stores. In Part 3, the final part of the series, we offer solutions for digital marketers looking to build a winning e-commerce strategy relevant for MENA.

E-commerce in the Middle East and North Africa region is growing at a rate of 25% per annum and is forecast to hit $28.5 billion by 2022, according to the latest research from Google and Bain and Company1.

But what are the best practices for digital marketers looking to improve their e-marketing strategies in 2019? Here are three top tips on how to create a winning e-marketing strategy relevant for MENA.

1. Build strong online platforms that offer a superior experience

As a rule of thumb, a good user interface will provide a good user experience. In MENA, consumers are mobile first, with smartphones being the preferred screen for online research and shopping. According to Google-Bain data the majority of shoppers (55%) in the UAE, KSA and Egypt prefer to use smartphones to shop online.

Furthermore, almost 56% of consumers in the UAE, KSA and Egypt start their shopping journey online using search engines as opposed to retailer websites, therefore retailers will benefit greatly from building SEO-optimized MENA specific websites.

Moreover, retailers can immediately appeal to a wider range of customers by localising online offerings.  In the Arab world, it is a more complex challenge considering all your features have to be adapted to Arabic language from right to left.

As customers become more demanding, the speed of online platforms is central to a good user experience and drives higher conversion rates. Technologies such as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), enable the creation of high-performing mobile websites and ads that load in less than 3 seconds.

Furthermore, online retailers can use their platforms to inspire shoppers on how to achieve the experience of the brand as a whole instead of just buying one product.


“Brands can inspire and educate shoppers online by providing curated advice on how to “shop the look” instead of products in isolation,” said Tanmay Dhall, industry manager for retail and e-commerce in MENA at Google.

“For example, while buying furniture, your customers should be able to get ideas about how to design their living rooms and be able to buy that entire look and instead of having to build it piece by piece,” he added.

2. Use data analytics to measure performance and enhance experience

In this day and age, retailers who can integrate offline data into online sales are at a strong advantage.

“When it comes to capturing, analysing data and subsequently deploying the insights in decision making, we have just started scratching the surface. Having a robust measurement framework and infrastructure allows online retailers to understand both consumer behavior and effectiveness of different marketing formats and platforms ” said Dhall.

“For brick and mortar retailers, capturing data effectively coupled with deployment of loyalty programs could help build a single view of the customer (online and offline) and eventually deliver a truly omnichannel customer experience,” he added.

Furthermore, technologies such as Google Cloud for Marketing solutions enable digital marketers to use data to power their marketing solutions through the cloud.

By leveraging powerful machine learning through Google Cloud instead of running your own servers which is very costly, marketers can process data much faster and find deep insights about their customers and campaigns. By breaking down data silos, they can take marketing to new levels and drive better results.

3. Provide frictionless payments and smart dynamic pricing

A key component for closing an online sale is the ability to simplify payments for online goods and services and provide reliable deliveries and returns.

Digital marketers who can provide their online customers with a frictionless checkout experience can dramatically improve online customer journeys in the region.

“Many people abandon their online shopping carts because the payment process is too long or their credit card details aren’t pre-populated,” said Dhall.

Minimising the time and effort it takes for the customer to action a payment, will not only provide a better online customer experience but will also significantly boost online sales and customer loyalty, he added.

Moreover, as MENA is a price-sensitive region,digital marketers can benefit from having an intelligent dynamic pricing strategy.

While there are many ways digital marketers can upgrade their digital marketing strategy, based on our research, a good place to start is by building and maintaining a strong online platform, using data analytics to continuously measure and improve customer experiences and providing smart frictionless payment systems.


The full Google and Bain & Company white paper E-commerce in MENA: Opportunity beyond the hype will soon be made available for download on Think with Google MENA.

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