Trade and retail analysts are in agreement that the Internet has made the world one big market. The unprecedented and phenomenal success of Amazon is clear proof of this assertion. The global retail market is further divided on the loose basis of regions from e-commerce’s standpoint. For instance, there is an Asia Pacific market, and then there is this MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) region.
The best thing about the ongoing e-commerce boom is that its benefits are not limited to an elite club of conglomerates. Even online ventures operated by individual sellers can sell their products in the far-off markets without going broke. If you are also one of an ambitious small online vendor who is looking to tap into the Middle Eastern market, then read on. We are going to discuss some of the top E-commerce avenues of the region where you can exhibit your products with the help of a seasoned Importer of Record.
We are going to divide these markets/platforms into two categories, i.e., the ones that offer to list and the ones that offer holistic e-commerce services (from storage to delivery).
E-Commerce Marketplaces (Websites) Offering Selling Programs
If you have acquired a warehouse in the country of your target market (UAE, KSA, etc.) or have made an arrangement with e-commerce IORs regarding the safe keeping of your cargo, then these are the options you can explore.
Awok is one of the leading marketplaces in the Middle East, especially in the KSA and UAE (the two major contributors to the online economy of the region). With an annual revenue of over $60 million and with a workforce of 700 employees, the website primarily gets traction for its buzzing marketplace of electronics. If you are also dealing in electronic gadgets and gear, then becoming a seller on Awok is worth a shot.
Besides its impressive online footprint, you should also consider working on Awok because you don’t need to pay any amount to register yourself as a seller. Similarly, the listing of products is also free. You need to pay Awok just on the products sold.
Lets Tango is another marketplace that promises you a good exposure in the Middle Eastern E-commerce landscape with its listings. You don’t need to have a big bulky portfolio to register yourself in their seller program. Any individual seller working with an e-commerce IOR can reach out to prospective customers through Lets Tango.
Lets Tango is primarily known for the shopping of electronic appliances, sports gear, and fashion items. So, there are many niches that you can explore with your products. You don’t need to pay to become a seller on Lets Tang. However, the 10% commission has to be paid on every item sold. The best thing about Lets Tango is its seller-friendly interface.
You are not required to install any plug-in or dedicated app to work on Lets Tango. A seller Dashboard embedded in its website is enough to streamline your activity on the platform.
Jollychic is a Chinese platform that has become a leading e-commerce marketplace in the Middle East in the last couple of years. Besides MENA, it also extends its services in several European countries. If you are planning to scale your business in different regions at the same time, then it is the place to be.
The majority of Middle Eastern buyers used Jollychic for electronic appliances and apparel. But the website also takes care of a range of consumer goods. Like the majority of leading e-commerce marketplaces, this one also offers free registration and commission-based service charges (15% on every item sold).
As the name suggests, this e-commerce marketplace has one of the most elementary user interfaces to work with. If you are expanding your brick-and-mortar operations on the digital medium, then you can pick this website as the starting point. Like UI, the registration of Easy Shopping is also a breeze. It is good for placing jewelry items, watches, and home appliances.
If you are already working with an expert e-commerce IOR, then you can register yourself on Easy Shopping within a couple of minutes. However, if you are already working online and want to enter the Middle Eastern market in high gear, then don’t sell through Easy Shopping only.
Cobone is one of the most established e-commerce marketplaces in the Middle East. It has been working in the region for the longest time among all the platforms we have discussed so far. The website deals with both services and products. If you are looking to sell your auto, beauty, and food products in some target markets within the region, then it’s a good place to start from.
Cobone doesn’t just offer placement on lists. It can also devise your marketing campaigns and can write ad copies for you. Due to its targeted listings and extended services, you need to pay 15% to get referrals (while registration is free).
E-Commerce Marketplaces (Websites) Offering Complete Fulfillment Programs
As discussed earlier, you have two options to work in the Middle East e-commerce marketplace. One is to list your products on the given website, get your products on the destination port through a good e-commerce Importer of Record, and then manage your inventory and packaging.
The other route is to register in a complete program where the e-commerce operator will take care of your shipments from storage to packaging to delivery. In the Middle Eastern market, there are two major players offering holistic e-commerce services to small and individual online sellers. One, of course, is Amazon, and the other is Noon (Noon Seller Lab).
Souq was the largest E-commerce marketplace in the Middle East when Amazon acquired it two years ago. Now, Amazon runs its operations in the Middle East through the storefront of Souq. It is a no brainer that if you are looking to make a full-fledged entry into KSA, UAE, or any other Middle Eastern nationwide market, then you need to be on Souq.
Although the registration and listing process on Souq is pretty simple, you still need to prove your business credentials by registering your venture in the respective country. If you are already taking care of your shipments to these countries through an e-commerce IOR and want to get around this requirement of, then pick a company that is also an approved Amazon IOR Importer of Record service provider.
These companies are actually seller IORs that can assume the role of your front. In other words, you don’t need to get into the exhaustive process of business registration and documentation. Just work with a reputable Amazon Importer of Record, and it will take care of everything— from importing your products to the destination ports to delivering them to the Fulfillment Centers and then getting them listed on the platform using its seller status.
The nominal fee you pay to your Amazon IOR in the Middle East is nothing in comparison to the laundry list of the upfront and overhead expenses you need to spare otherwise.
Though not as big as Amazon, Noon.com also offers a holistic selling mechanism. Its Seller Lab allows you to benefit from the extensive network of the company, particularly in the UAE, to sell products. Like Amazon, it also offers a Fulfillment program that comes quite handy for small online ventures operating with limited resources.
Noon also requires you to register your venture in the region to benefit from its Seller program. This is the requirement that stops many small and individual sellers from exploring this buzzing e-commerce marketplace. However, you can get around this constraint.
Like Amazon Affiliates, you can also find Noon Importers of Record that are already enjoying the status of the seller on the platform. They can help you to get the ball rolling if you are new in the market and don’t want to risk big investments.
Entering the Middle Eastern marketplace entails a lucrative prospect. It is a region that is experiencing the highest growth of smartphone users. Moreover, it is one of those few global markets where a large number of consumers are into luxury goods and willing to spend matching amounts. It is a place where even fewer sales can generate higher profits. Also, the existing offline retail businesses in the region are not that excited about exploring the online potential. Some estimates suggest that only 15-20% of brick-and-mortar Middle Eastern chains have online fronts.
All these points and indicators suggest that it’s just the right time for small and individual online sellers to enter the Middle Eastern e-commerce landscape along with an experienced e-commerce Importer of Record.