Those who live within the Middle East or have spent time there have no doubt encountered difficulties using internet services to contact people outside the region. In a GCC country, you likely found that calls via WhatsApp, Facetime, and Skype were blocked. Likewise, if you were trying to reach a local in one of these countries, you may have experienced an unusually poor connection due to a short bandwidth.
In general, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services are completely free or relatively cheap, making them an appealing option in emerging market regions with large expat populations. However, many countries in the Middle East have instated wide-spread VoIP bans which render phone calling features of popular apps such as WhatsApp, Viber and FaceTime inaccessible. These conditions make it expensive and difficult for businesses and individuals to conduct long-distance voice calls.
Ecommerce Trends: Shipping and Fulfillment
With more shipping boxes on doorsteps, packages on trucks and products in the air than ever before, the global ecommerce sector is booming – and the Middle East is no exception.
According to market trends, more than a quarter of Middle Eastern consumers now shop online every month. 36 percent of shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 shop online at least once a month, a substantial increase from previous generations.
Better pricing, product selection and convenience are often listed by these customers as the reason for selecting ecommerce over traditional brick and mortar purchases. With increasingly more youth than previously in most Middle Eastern countries, these trends are only expected to continue.
The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the entire world. While it is still nowhere near as developed or complex as the markets in the United States or many countries in Europe, the region is experiencing an undeniable boom. It is estimated that online sales in the Middle East currently equal only a meager 2% of total retail revenue, as opposed to 15% in more developed regions. E-commerce in the Gulf States alone is estimated to quadruple from the $5 billion in profits seen in 2015 to $20 billion before 2020. There are some analysts that are even reporting estimated profits of $48.8 billion in 2021. Currently, almost 90% of online goods bought in the Middle East are still shipped from outside countries, but this is changing rapidly. As a result, there is huge potential for e-commerce profit during this modern age in the Middle East. (more…)
Starbucks Middle East Success Secrets – How a US coffee company succeeded in a region already saturated with coffee shops
Coffee and coffee shops are an integral part of Middle East culture, with many claiming that the ancient roots of coffee consumption rest in the Arabic-speaking world. A classical Arabic Abd al-Khadir ode to coffee claims it to be “the beverage of the friends of God.” Enter Starbucks, an utterly American Seattle-based coffee chain with over 600 stores in 12 Middle Eastern and North African countries, with a client base that is growing every day, and surging revenue throughout the region. How has Starbucks blended ancient Arabic culture with modern marketing into a delicious success? And why does the Middle East love the Starbucks brand?