Arabic Ecommerce Guide
Ecommerce sales in the Middle East have been growing rapidly in the region in the past few years. In this article we discuss some important parts of Arabic ecommerce and keys to success for businesses looking to run an Arabic ecommerce store.
Keys to success with Arabic Ecommerce
If you know the products on your ecommerce website resonate with an Arabic audience, there are a few keys to having success with your Arabic ecommerce business.
Focus on the right traffic sources
There are lots of ways you can get cheap Arabic speaking traffic to your website, but it doesn’t mean that traffic is going to turn into paying customers. Many startups focus on organic social media marketing in the region and get a lot of attention that doesn’t result in sales. Instead we recommend that almost any ecommerce business start with traffic sources like Arabic PPC and SEO that get your website in front of Arabs that are already searching for products like yours.
Manually Translate and Localize Arabic Content
Many ecommerce platforms offer automatic translation or machine translation, but we don’t typically recommend using this unless its a temporary solution. Instead we find that when ecommerce websites have high quality Arabic content they rank better in Google and when Arabs land on product and category pages they are more likely to buy than if the content is just machine translated.
Fix the Arabic User interface
Since Arabic is a Right to Left language (RTL) instead of a Left to Right language (LTR) like English, Arabic websites require unique RTL styling (CSS) to show the text of the website properly. Many ecommerce websites make the mistake of just translating their Arabic content but not fixing the text styling, which results in a poor user experience for Arabs.
Know your audience
Not every Arab will buy your products so it’s important to understand which Arab audiences will be interested in and buy your products. For example, we find that most high end European apparel retailers products perform best when they are sold to upper class Gulf Arab customers in Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman. If these apparel retailers target Middle Class Egyptians, they typically won’t see a good ROI from their marketing. Other products may have different audiences though.
Converting your English Ecommerce website into Arabic
One of the common requests we get is to convert an existing English website into Arabic. If this is something you need help with, we’d love to help. Contact us to find out more.
If you are going to attempt to convert your website to Arabic on your own without a coding background you should either hire a developer with Arabic experience or use a template that is already set up to work with Arabic. Many developers who aren’t native Arabic speakers say that they can work with RTL languages like Arabic, but the truth is that they will often make mistakes when setting the website up for Arabic. We strongly recommend using a native Arabic speaker to at least review the work the developer does.
Common Ecommerce Platforms Compatible with Arabic
Not all ecommerce website platforms work well with Arabic so it’s important that you choose one that functions properly with Arabic and that suits your other ecommerce needs.
Shopify is probably the easiest way to get started with an Arabic website. If you don’t have a coding background its important that you choose an Arabic compatible Shopify theme. Though no Shopify website has all the ideal functionality for Arabic its typically good enough if you use the Langify app to translate the website from English to Arabic. Since there will be Middle Eastern customers that prefer to use the internet in English in addition to Arabic you should have a bi-lingual website instead of just and Arabic website. Shopify SEO in Arabic will be key to attracting Middle East traffic to the website.
WordPress with WooCommerce
For small to medium sized ecommerce websites with coding resources WooCommerce will allow you to create an Arabic ecommerce version of your website that is fully optimized and compatible with Arabic from a RTL layout and Arabic SEO perspective. WooCommerce gives you more flexibility with adding additional functionality to your ecommerce website than you get with a platform like Shopify.
For Enterprise Companies
For large companies looking to run a powerful ecommerce website that works with Arabic and other RTL languages we recommend giving BigCommerce a try or potentially Magento.
Countries to focus on in the Arab World
If you are still learning who your audience might be in the Middle East we recommend starting your Ecommerce marketing efforts with the following GCC countries in order of importance.
- Saudi Arabia
- The UAE
We find that most companies will get a decent percentage of their Middle East sales from these countries and once they have success with these countries they can expand their business into other Middle Eastern countries.
Are you looking for help with your Arabic ecommerce development or marketing efforts? Whether you are just getting started or you are looking to improve your results in the region we’d love to help.