E-commerce players in the GCC aim high


E-commerce players in the GCC aim high
The entry of newcomers into the GCC e-commerce market has provided alternatives for local online shoppers.

dubai - Entry of many newcomers into the GCC retail e-commerce market has provided alternatives for local shoppers

By David Macadam

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Published: Wed 26 Dec 2018, 3:56 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Dec 2018, 5:58 PM

The UAE retail industry performed as a mature retail market performs in the GCC in 2018. Top line revenue growth in physical retail stores was pegged at three per cent on average. Some retail categories enjoyed higher growth than the average and others had less growth. The most successful retail businesses were able to control and manage expenses which enabled profits to remain relatively intact.

In 2018, online sales again grew exponentially on a worldwide basis. Statista.com reports that worldwide online e-commerce sales in 2017 totalled $2.3 trillion. The forecast is to have online sales globally rise to $4.88 trillion in 2021, indicating a doubling in volume in five years.

China by far has emerged as the world leader in e-commerce with a year-on-year increase of 43 per cent in the past five years. Digitalcommerce360.com and China Daily News reported in February 2018 that China surpassed $1 trillion in e-commerce gross sales in 2017.

The US online sales in 2017, according to Statista.com, totalled less than half the sales registered in China with $446 billion. In China, the Financial Times reported that 46 per cent of the total retail sales there are facilitated online.

Traditional retail in the US market, according to Neilsen.com, grew at six per cent in 2017. Given the US retail market is approximately $5 trillion, that amount of growth is equivalent to an increase in annual spending of $300 billion. Trending for 2019 in retail is a continued growth in retail sales both online and in traditional brick-and-mortar retail.

Share of US online retail
In the US retail market, the overall total is $5 trillion in sales. Amazon, which is the largest North American based e-commerce business, accounted for approximately $80 billion in retail sales in 2016. These numbers are impressive, but indicate a small percentage of total retail sales in the US market. In 2017, sales increased but still account for less than nine per cent of the total US retail sales. Alibaba from China accounted for approximately $40 billion in the Chinese market in 2017.

The entry of many newcomers into the GCC retail e-commerce market has provided many alternatives for local online shoppers. Souq.com has been acquired by Amazon; Noon.com has been launched in 2018 as a regional startup. Other online sales portals have been launched by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and shopping centre owners.

Purchasing power
The trend into 2019 will see increased sales numbers for e-commerce players in the GCC. For the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers regionally, we will also see growth particularly as the tourist purchasing power comes back into the local markets.

The governments within the GCC have learned that retail regionally provides around 10 per cent of the GDP of each country. Retail is an industry which now has legitimacy as a career choice. The retail industry is incredibly large and multifaceted. Choosing to become involved in the retail business means that you will be involved in a global business with more than $5 trillion in annual turnover. Aligning your talents and efforts in this large-scale global industry can be very rewarding over your lifetime. A great part about the retail industry is the huge number of opportunities available to learn and grow your career.

The retail industry includes everything from real estate, supply chain management, bricks-and-mortar retail, technology-driven retail, property management, asset management, design, leasing, facilities management, retailers, legal, marketing, architecture, publishing, specialty retail, consultancy, advisory roles and these roles represent only a partial list of the many opportunities within the retail industry. Keep your focus on your strengths. Work harder and smarter on those things which truly excite you.

Mentorship is one of the fastest ways to accelerate your career and your learning. The retail industry is an ideal forum for working with mentors. By speaking with the experiences learned from the best and brightest in the industry, you will set yourself apart as a leader. Knowledge comes in many forms and what you end up learning usually surprises you in unexpected and good ways. Whether knowledge is acquired through on-the-job training, through mentorship programmes, custom training programmes or through many schools and universities globally, education and learning are vital to our success in life.

The writer is CEO of Middle East Council of Shopping Centres. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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