2017-09-04
Long Way to Go for Online Commerce in the Middle East
Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses in the Middle East venturing into online commerce still have a long way to go until they provide a satisfying user journey via mobile and website. This is partially due to an over-reliance on their physical stores and their traditional customer support methods.

Here is a simple process has gone wrong. The scenario below is common place:

You order and pay for two available books online from a reputable book store that also happens to have an online store. All is great. You receive an email confirmation stating that the payment is processed and order has been placed successfully.

Two days later, you get a call from the store stating that the system seems to have had an issue. The books you ordered showed that they were in stock when, in reality, they were not. Accordingly, the customer service representative offers you two options:

1.Get a refund,
2.Wait for three weeks until they order the book.

You go with option 2 and agree to wait, which isn't a big issue because you're not in a hurry. Then another six weeks pass, and you get four consecutive calls from the store while you are in a different country and incurring roaming call fees to tell you that the books are available but you have not paid for them.

After you clarify you already paid, you receive another call to only be informed that it is not known who will be paying for the shipment (although you had paid for it). So the supervisor tells you that they're going to have to revise the whole thing with the accounting department and (hopefully) get back to you… These are the same types of businesses that complain that online sales and internet penetration is eroding their business.

To be able to operate a successful e-commerce business, it is advised to have the following:

1.A frictionless process for online purchases; otherwise, it will be very tempting to buy from your competitors abroad.
2.A customer service department capable of and answering customer needs.
3.Fulfillment of operations needs to be locked down in terms of availability, purchase, warehousing, payment, and delivery.

To increase and grow your online sales volume, it takes more than just publishing a website or a mobile app.